Posts Tagged ‘cellular telephone’

 

Crazy Phone Tricks For Stef

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Stef lives in Southern California, specifically the San Fernando Valley aka 818. Her 203 cellphone is still associated with life in Connecticut. It’s the number all her friends have.

She has a problem!

She doesn’t want to lose touch with her friends by changing the number. At the same time she wants people in California to know she lives there–especially potential employers.

There is a solution that’s free and (of course) it’s from Google!

She’ll be getting a Google Voice account. There are lots of ways to use it, but for Stef it will be a virtual phone number. Dial either her Connecticut or California numbers to ring her cell phone. Google Voice can be programmed to ring other phones too, but this is a start.

The number comes with free texting and nearly understandable written transcription of voicemails. Of all the things Google does transcribing voicemail is the thing it does worst!

As always I have no idea what the business model is or how Google plans on making money from this service. It’s just there.

All Stef has to do now is pick an area code (she can choose any in SoCal or nationwide) and select a number.

It seems too good to be true. It’s not.

Google Voice And Me

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

I have had a Grand Central account since they became available. I hardly used it, but didn’t want to miss out. I’m part of the reason Connecticut might soon need additional area codes since I received another phone number. Please don’t think of me when you have to ten digit dial.

Now Grand Central is Google Voice. It’s part of Google’s master plan to own everything informational. The plan is going well.

Google Voice has all sorts of cool features I’d like to take advantage. First though I’ve got to figure out how to use Google Voice for my at&t cell phone. Is it possible? I don’t know.

Do you?

Leaving Port

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

As long as I still have reasonable Internet access via my cell phone, here’s a look at our departure from Jacksonville. It was windy and very chilly, but gorgeous!

The signature bridge for this harbor is the Napoleon Bonaparte Bridge.

Cell Phone Reunion

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

I love this. Language is PG at best. Maybe NSFW.

Thanks Jim

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Helaine and Stef are on their way to a concert tonight. They headed out early. Helaine always likes to leave plenty of time. Today it was warranted.

While cruising on I-95′s Baldwin Bridge over the Connecticut River, they heard a thud. Then they saw a piece of tire. A dashboard light was on a few seconds later. Her tire had gone flat¹.

We have AAA. She has a cell phone. A call was made.

It’s never fun to change a tire, though that was never a concern. I’m pretty sure Helaine has never done changed one and never will. On top of that, it’s raining.

So, there they are, sitting in the car waiting for AAA, when up pulled Jim.

Who is Jim? Today he is Helaine’s guardian angel.

Jim works for the I-95 Safety Patrol. Paid for by the DOT, the patrol cruises I-95 in his yellow van, offering free assistance to stranded motorists.

As Jim found the spare tire and began to change the flat, Helaine called AAA to tell them “never mind.” A few minutes later it was mission accomplished and the girls were on their way.

Helaine tried to offer Jim a tip, but he said it wasn’t allowed. She said he was polite and helpful and… like I said, he’s guardian angel material. We are grateful.

If you’re wondering if Jim’s performance had anything to do with my TV-boy status, the answer is no. There was no way for him to know and Helaine never offered it up, though he might know now, because I gave him a shout-out on the news.

On behalf of the Fox Family, my thanks for Jim and to all the other Jims out there. You know who you are.

In a perfect world, they’d allow you to accept tips..

¹ – Originally, Helaine said it was a blowout, which to me means a physical breakdown where the tire comes apart. I’m not sure that’s actually the case right now.

On The Road With Harold And Betty

Monday, April 28th, 2008

I turned on my cell phone this afternoon and found a message from my mom – on the bus, on her way to Branson.

“We stopped at a Taco Bell,” she said, proclaiming the highlight of the day so far. She had never been to one before! Then, she and my dad giggled.

Yes, that’s sweet.

Helaine just called to tell me my mom had called her this afternoon. They are at their hotel in Branson.

It seems, because my mom is the ‘leader’ of this group, she and my dad have been assigned a suite! My guess is, that’s something my parents will keep quiet about… at least while they’re there.

In many ways, the social scene for retirees is like the social scene for high school girls.

No Bars At Home

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

cell-screen.jpgNot one of my finest photos on the left. Just a little something I took a few minutes ago. It’s my cell phone explaining to me there’s no longer cell service where I live! It says “Emergency Service” because that’s now the only call I can make… if there’s even enough signal for that (It’s not the kind of thing you idly check).

OK – that’s an exaggeration. If you stand in just the right spot, a marginal signal is sometimes available. It’s not a total loss, but pretty close.

Look for yourself. With no strength bars showing, the signal indicator now resembles a screw head – as in… well, draw your own conclusion.

This all began Friday afternoon. My phone rang at work. It was Helaine. She was calling the station’s phone and she was using our POTS¹. Usually she calls my cell from her cell.

“No cell service,” she said.

It’s electronic. It’s complex. I understand.

When I got home from work, I had no service. Stef was in the same boat.

Friday turned to Saturday, then Saturday to Sunday. Friends came to play poker and those with phones from AT&T found they had no service either.

Today, on my way to work, I called AT&T. Of course their rep saw no reason for my trouble, though the woman on the phone said she’d check for possible ‘service downgrades.’ There are two scary words for someone with the majority of a two year contract in front of him.

Do they honor payment downgrades?

I e-mailed Robert, the guy who sold me my phone, and who seemed pretty technically proficient. He is now asking for assistance on my behalf.

AT&T is not alone in causing this kind of angst to a good customer. They have totally removed those who know what’s going on from those asking the questions. In essence, they’ve put their thinking staff behind a firewall. That’s what banks and airlines and all sorts of what were once called ‘service businesses,’ now do.

So, I’m waiting. I’m sitting on my hands hoping there’s really no need for my cellphone at home. Unfortunately, it has become my number of choice when people ask how they can reach me.

I’m not sure there’s anything I can do.

¹ – POTS = plain old telephone service.

Gate 5 LAX

Friday, January 11th, 2008

Everything went smoothly. I wasn’t totally sure that would be the case.

As usual, I misplaced something (my Bluetooth earpiece) and had to search before I could leave. Even so, I waved to Cousin Michael (Melissa and Max having long since left) and headed out around my planned 9:00 AM departure.

The GPS was programmed with the out-of-the-way address for Deluxe Car Rental. This was an address that hadn’t been added before the trip and it took a minute or two to enter. Once again, it was like having a co-pilot.

I headed up the San Diego Freeway passing Irvine and Anaheim. A lot of people in those brand new, shiny office towers must be sweating it out today. This is ground zero for the subprime mortgage meltdown. Countrywide, in Calabassas went down earlier today.

Around 30 miles from LAX I hit my first traffic jam. From 65 mph, I slowed to a crawl. I then continued to crawl for the next 45 minutes! Suddenly the traffic was gone. I was moving again at the speed limit.

What was causing the tie-up? Nothing I could see. This is typical of Southern California.

At the airport, a medium sized crowd was waiting to check in and go through security. The Southwest agent who gave me my baggage claim check couldn’t have been nicer. All smiles!

Then I climbed a flight of stairs to the TSA’s special portion of hell. With all my electronics, I used three bins. I probably could have used four.

As I was standing in line, listening to Luna on the other side of the magnetometer yelling at us to remember our boarding passes, I realized what this whole process reminded me of: prison!

Thanks to MSNBC’s “Extended Stay” prison docs, I realize security at the airport is similar to what prisoners go through when they’re brought into the slammer. Who knew a documentary could be so practically useful?

I found some food to bring on the plane and Starbucks has brewed my first cup of coffee. Now I’m sitting in the waiting area, plugged into half the freely available power outlets I can find. My cell phone (connecting at old school slow speed and not 3G) is my link to the web.

Helaine says it’s quite foggy in Connecticut. Hopefully that will be gone by the time I land in Connecticut late tonight.

Almost Gone

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

I’m pretty much done packing. The plane leaves at noon.

I hope Stef doesn’t read this. I’m starting to pack like her. No, not clothes, but my stuff weighs more.

For Clicky, I’ve got the tripod and monopod, five lenses and a flash unit. Oh – there’s the Gorilla Pod too. I normally carry three batteries and charger plus 3.5 Gb in compact flash memory cards.

I’ve got a computer and cell phone plus cables for both. Ditto with a GPS unit. And, on top of that, there are the army of power plugs and power bugs.

Stef passed her old iPod down to me. I’ve downloaded enough podcasts to fly to Burma. The iPod travels with earbuds and a cable. Though pink, it is now hidden in a black rubber skin, lest anyone question my masculinity.

This is nuts. All this stuff. Even I can see that, but I’m obsessed. It’s an illness.

The weather has been horrendous out west. San Francisco had 60+ mph gusts on Friday. The system is moving down the coast, though it’s weakening. I expect the pilot will be forced to wrestle the plane to the ground as we land at LAX.

We will chase the Sun, flying west at about 500 mph. It’s a losing battle. The Sun’s faster and won’t be stopping at Midway.

Even with three time zones, the clock will read 4:30 PM when we put down.

My plane flies from Hartford to Los Angeles with that stop in Chicago. Somehow, I’ve gotten it in my head to post a blog entry from my airplane seat as the plane briefly empties while we are on the ground in Chicago. My cellphone will act as the modem, bringing the Internet to my laptop.

Now I’m worried I’ve forgotten something.

Google Does It Again… Though Not For Me

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

What a tease! Google has brought out some cool, new technology and it doesn’t work for me!

Here’s what I’m talking about.

Google has replicated many of its full sized web applications for the tiny screens on ‘smart’ cellphones. One of the coolest ported applications is Google Maps. I’ve actually used this more than once.

It’s just as full featured as the Google maps you see on line – just smaller. As you scroll the map, new panels are downloaded off the Internet. It’s ingenious. And, just like Google Maps online, you can have it route a trip.

It’s possible to ‘mate’ this app with a Bluetooth GPS receiver (and wouldn’t I be King Nerd to do that) and have it position the maps and move them across your screen, keeping pace as you drive. I’ve seen some of these pocket sized GPS receivers advertised for under $30.

Of course that’s not enough for Google! They’ve taken it one step further. They’ve figured out a way to have this map program find its way without a GPS receiver. Neat trick.

Since the maps are running in a cell phone, Google looks at which cell towers are being received, figures out where they are and triangulates!

It’s not as accurate as satellite based GPS, but it’s not too bad. You can be located within a few blocks. With the maps on your screen, a few blocks is close enough… or it should be.

As I said, there’s an unfortunate problem. It doesn’t work with my phone!

I’m not 100% sure, but I think it’s because my Samsung Blackjack uses a strange version of Java which is problematic in many cases. It’s a ‘me’ problem, not a Google problem.

Is there a workaround? Probably. I’ll be looking for it.

Meanwhile, I’m impressed by Google… and more than a little bit envious.