Monday, January 2, 2012

Are Things Really This Bad?

Are things really this bad? Note the mailbox on the side of the unit. Hope no one really lives there.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Your Future Mobile Phone Bill Is Not Pretty

Via a recent consumer survey, I had a glimpse of the future of mobile phone services and I do not like what I saw. Yes, the technology is interesting but much of it is already here. What they were fishing for is how much would I, or you, be willing to pay for features we take for granted or would expect to be included in existing service packages. Service providers should focus on, well, the quality of their service along with coverage and the durability of their equipment.

The survey started with a list of companies to be considered when answering the survey questions. I say companies because it included more than mobile phone service providers, with social websites and OS providers included. I was to keep this list in mind as I answered the questions on specific mobile phone features/services.

The survey contained a description and 3 questions for each feature/service. The first question asked what you would be willing to pay for the service, regardless of who provided it. Each time my response was $0. The second question asked if had to pay for it, what you would be willing to pay. Each time my response was $0.01. The third question asked what would be too much to pay so that I would not consider it at all. Each time my response was $.25. My responses might seem frivolous, but the point is I did not think any of the named features/services were worth additional charges on my bill, especially if calculated on a per usage basis. The next set of questions asked how you would be willing to pay for these 'new' features/services. Did you prefer a per usage basis, a set amount of usage for a flat fee (as in 500 txt msgs for $14.99/mo.), or added onto a monthly data plan. My response is none of the above.

The one feature/service in the list that got me thinking about all of this and opened the window to the future is 'video calling'. Many phones already have the front camera with Wi-Fi calling enabled for this feature. To my way of thinking this will soon be a standard technology and should not incur additional charges.

How mobile phone service providers charge for features and services is becoming a hot topic, such as the recent discussions on tethering. The competition is fierce and no one wants to give up a piece of the rapidly changing mobile landscape pie. Consider the recently announced possible merging of Skype with Facebook. Is this a good thing? It is open to discussion. Also witness AT&T putting a cap on their subscriber's data usage. This cannot be good for the emerging mobile art community, especially iPad and iPhone users. UPDATE: MICROSOFT ACQUIRED SKYPE FOR $8.5 BILLION ON 5/10/11.

Don't think the providers aren't watching what you do with your mobile phone, either. When was the last time you printed out your phone bill and took a good look at it? I am a heavy data user and last month I printed mine out. It was a hefty 30 pages! They list the date and time for each and every thing you do, whether making a call, texting, or going on the web. Take a look at your complete phone bill and you will see what I am talking about.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

To Tether or Not To Tether Phone to Computer

With the addition of free Wi-Fi last year at my apartment complex, I disconnected my DSL and home phone service. The free Wi-Fi is great, but every other month or so the service is non-existent. Whether building management forgets to pay the bill or accidently switches it off, I do not know but it happened again this weekend. What to do to connect to the Internet? I considered a 'dongle' from my cell phone service provider, but that would require an extra data plan. Ditto with a netbook. Why would I want another data plan when I already had one for my Android smartphone? To my way of thinking, I should be able to just access the Internet from my computer through my cell phone aka tethering. Talk to your cell phone provider about your options and they all have a cost and usually another subscription.

Enter the brave new world of Android phone applications such as Photoshop Express, Skype, Autodesk Sketchbook Mobile, Quickoffice, Retro Camera, Blogger, Borders e-Reader, etc. In my search for a free tethering application I found 'Klink' by Faveset LLC. The demo is free, but the full version is a flat, one-time fee of $2.99. Well, after trying the demo I knew this was the app for me. I had a couple of false starts trying to get the configuration correct, but as they say in the techie world RTFM. Once you get the app working, it is excellent. If your Android phone is 3g or 4g, you will get those connection speeds. Instead of a dongle you connect your computer to your phone via the phone's USB cable. NO ADDITIONAL DATA PLAN is necessary! And that is a beautiful thing. Check out the application and see what you think.

In regards to the legal aspect of tethering, I view it the same way I view software installation licensing. With software the common thought has been that you, as yourself, cannot use an application on two machines simultaneously, so installation is allowed, for example, on your desktop computer and your laptop computer under the same license. [Remember, I'm saying the common thought...] With tethering, you access the Internet from the connected machine (computer) not from the connecting device (phone) itself. Thus you are using only one data connection, or license, at a time. It makes sense to me. Does it make sense to you?