Category Archives: technology

Streaming Music Refugee Reviews Part One

Since rdio is bankrupt and no longer taking any new customers as of November 23rd of 2015, I decided to take on a trial period subscription with Google. Because I am an owner of their Chromecast dongle, I was able to get a 90 day trial period which led me to consider them as a customer.

I was happy that I got commercial free YouTube access as part of my subscription, but I realized the song library is radically reduced compared to rdio. You are not going to get the new Hurts album Surrender nor Kylie Minogue’s deluxe version of her Christmas album on the streaming site compared to rdio. However not to complain much, Google does have some music that rdio did not carry such as indie musician Matt Fishel.

Also, the website format for Google Play Music All Access is not exactly user friendly or have the quality user interface rdio ever had as well. Its better to use All Access on a tablet or a smart phone.

If Google and any other company wants to fight for rdio’s former customers listen to our pleas so we can become your customers for years to come. If Google does not work out, I will likely review Apple Music in the near future.

Goodbye Rdio, It Was Nice Knowing You

I got into streaming music around four years ago. I have paid 5 bucks a month to enjoy countless music from rdio. Rdio was one of the forerunners who helped innovate the streaming music industry aside from Spotify. Losing two million dollars a month and relying only on venture capital funding can go so far for a company where they realized the business was not quite sustainable.

It seems that streaming music will be a loss leader for companies such as Apple, Google and Microsoft where it will be more difficult for companies such as Pandora and Spotify to compete. The costs of licencing the music is one of the biggest costs for a business like this. I do appreciate the opportunity to try out music from different acts. The radio format that plays random tunes actually did lead me to buy some music from various bands as paid downloads which some musicians should understand.

I know streaming music may not pay the money making music used to provide before the era of the mp3 and Napster, but we should be innovative so we can be pro-consumer and pro-producer of the art we enjoy.Perhaps we should do a paid stream where one pays 99 cents to stream a mid tier release and one gets a 1.29 credit to buy the whole release if they end up liking the release within a 24 hour window, and for a high tier release it would be 2.99, and then a 3.29 credit to buy a release such as Adele’s 25. This could be one way that Adele and Taylor Swift could adapt to technology while still getting paid.

I will be trying out Google, Apple and perhaps Spotify in the next few months to find my new home for streaming music.

T-Mobile Simple Choice

It seems Simple Choice is not simple indeed, problem with T-Mobile its just another way to raise your costs. If you do not have a family who wants to save money in collaboration, you are screwed.

I think Simple Choice is a covert way to increase revenue, yes T-Mobile is just as shifty as Verizon and ATT. I listened to John’s sales pitch about how the number one and number two carriers are milking the customer with overages and wasted extra data because people do not want to get hit with an overage.

I think T-Mobile and its ownership group are right that if prices are increased churn is going to happen. So T-Mobile has to add extra goodies to customers to maximize the average revenue per user which is a big metric from the mobile industry. Double the data did sound nice, but the problem is they added an extra 5 to 15 dollar premium on the plans now. Unlimited will cost 95 dollars now just as how unlimited is 70 dollars at Sprint.

Also grandfathered discounts from private sector employers and government discounts are not valid for these new “amped” plans.

I am seriously thinking of using JUMP 1 to JUMP to a real cheap phone and pay it off, and then go to Cricket or Simple Mobile. Even if bandwidth is limited to 8mb, I am still ok with that.

I certainly do not want to go to Verizon where my sister and her boyfriend reside, but I wish they could go to T-Mobile with me, but no matter what Verizon says or does they will be stuck with them in a blood covenant.

I hope more companies make phones that are not confined to 1 company. I would of loved to see LG make an unlocked phone that is not reliant on a carrier. So you can use it on MetroPCS, T-Mobile, ATT, or Cricket. I love my G4, but it sucks that they did not shout to the viewers of the pep rally that it is 65 a month not 60 a month for that new spangled 6gb plan that seems rather tempting.

And if I do send back that router that T-Mobile let me use, I am absolutely going to buy insurance just incase if their depot loses the router and then I get billed for it.

As what Rush sung a long time ago, You don’t get something for nothing, you don’t get freedom for free.

Just Give Me The Updates T-Mobile

I am an over ten year customer of T-Mobile and I have a rant about their service. This is making me consider moving to Cricket in the near future. When you promote an update for one of the carrier devices you have you should make it possible for the customer to be able to install it.

Recently LG released an update for the G4 that was released on August 31st and countless others are still blocked from installing it even though your website and countless blogs are mentioning it because it has some vital updates in improving messaging security from the Stagefright exploit. I have had kittens waiting for other updates such as the Sony Xperia Z1S update last year and even the Z3 update. I felt that T-Mobile barely supports Sony phones so that is why I went with the LG G4, but it seems like if we want any respect we have to go with an iPhone in the near future.

I should not have to do a factory reset to get my update. I recently did a factory reset and I did not get the N update that was advertised.

I do feel that we will get Marshmallow (Android 6) on the G4 in a timely matter, but these faux pas incidents just sour me time after time.

LG G4 Review

It seems that the T-Mobile JUMP Program has its use. I have been paying the 10 dollar a month fee for the last year and a half and went thru three phones during that time. I went from a Sony Xperia Z1S to a Z3 and now I am going to LG for the first time after using HTC and Samsung in the past.
The LG G4 is on sale with T-Mobile until the end of July for a real nice price of 479.76 which was around the same price I still owed on the Xperia Z3 which made it a no-brainer for me to consider the upgrade.
There are a few things I was giving up from going to this phone, but it was worth the risk. The Z3 has a bigger battery and the build quality was more glass and metal compared to the LG G4 plastic body and 10% less battery capacity. G4 does not have the water resistance as most recent Xperia phones, so be careful with water getting on your phone.
The LG G4’s newest trend is leather back covers. With T-Mobile they have the exclusive brown color while the other leading providers have a black leather cover. If you are a vegan or prefer not using leather you can use the plastic cover. The covers are nice I like how the brown one fits with my phone.
The phone also has real good resolution and just like Samsung and Sony they are also into the screen technology as used in monitors and television screens.The screen resolution eclipses the iPhone 6 Plus.
I may not like how the speakers are placed in the back, but if you care deeply about sound I would recommend headphones or a good Bluetooth speaker.
I wish T-Mobile restrained themselves with their own software baked in with the operating system. Mobile money should be an optional feature that users could uninstall with no problem. Also Google is increasing the number of apps baked in the operating system such as Google’s word processor. Forced applications will make people want to consider either Apple or using One Plus as their next phone.

I am liking some of the added features such as knocking on the screen to turn it off or on. The volume switch and power switch on the back of the phone will take some getting used to, but I am basically content with my new phone.

Technology Review Sony Xperia Z3

Since I am paying money for the T-Mobile JUMP program which allows me to trade in a phone I have not yet paid off for a newer phone after six months (newer program requires 50% to be paid), I decided to splurge on the Sony Xperia Z3 last month after realizing my paid off Z1S in 2016 would basically have no resale value.

I am in the in between time between the newer devices that would be announced around March, but I did not feel like waiting for them to be released around April or May.

I am a previous owner of a Sony device having used the previous incarnation the Z1S. The Z3 has many of the features that make Sony phones different from the competition from the water resistance features and the PlayStation interactivity where you can use your Sony phone as a portable device to play the games from your PlayStation 4 remotely.

What is different in the Xperia Z3 that would make someone want to switch devices? There is modest processor speed bump from 2.2ghz to 2.5ghz and an increase in memory from 2gb to 3gb. It makes the device run more smoothly. Instead of a square shaped device, there is rounded edges which helps the device to have a better feel.

Some of the things I do not like in the device is the new carrier bloat such as T-Mobile Name ID, there should be a bundle deal where you get voicemail to text and Name ID for a slight discount. That is the only peril of getting a carrier branded device where you do not have the flexibility to uninstall certain programs off your device. 32gb storage not including the micro sd storage helps out where there is still plenty of room for your new applications, photos and music.

Should you get this device? If you are already a Sony user, I would recommend this. If you are looking for an Android device not made by Samsung or HTC this is the device to consider. If you are not able to wait for the Galaxy S6 or the HTC M9 the Xperia Z3 is the device for you. $630 is a bit high for the device, wish it was knocked down to $549 and I think more people will jump aboard to the Sony train.

Retro Communications Today

Bulletin Board Systems were in the rage before the era of the Internet for the general public. Before the Internet was opened up to the general public, the Bulletin Board System was real popular. Even America Online was a bulletin board system before they were known as a gateway to the Internet.

Bulletin Boards were either single line or multi line and they had community connections. In my local area code we had over 20-30 different systems one could call into. Unfortunately I was one of the last dialup systems in my area and basically fold the towel in 2001 after my debut in 1995 as a part time system.

With the BBS we have curated file libraries, we have text file collections and even games that do not require the user to pay 99 cents for tokens to pass difficult levels from the games such as Candy Crunch Saga.

Today we have the option of visiting systems around the world, back in 1997/1998 I faced heavy long distance charges to dial the east coast to download files, now its part of your Internet provider subscription and you can visit systems in Australia, Brazil or even Canada.

Many of the systems that ran did not have fancy interfaces to communicate into. They were like if you were using a DOS prompt and the communication was text and 16 color oriented. People eagerly awaited the new messages from Fidonet and WWIVnet and posted their conversations just as much as people use Twitter or Facebook today.

Operating and visiting the BBS systems may be not what it used to be, but many who believe in the spirit of this retro form of communication hope that if people could crave music in vinyl format, people could come back to the bulletin board. If Facebook could have arbitrary restrictions about using their service, maybe we should go back to basics with the BBS.

Even 14 years after the peak of the Internet a hundred plus bulletin boards are still in operation and you can visit them.

You may not have a copy of QModem or Terminate to dial into a bbs in the current day, but you can today by using an application such as Syncterm. Since dial-up connections are more rare than bbs callers, we use telnet to dial in through the Internet. A convenient installer is available thru the Syncterm download page.

The default dialing directory has over 40 systems one could visit. If you are looking for more, you can find some in the Fidonet BBS Ads echo.

Smart Meters Hit Southern California Gas

If you have not heard by now, smart meters will be deployed to the customers of Southern California Gas in the near future.  Unfortunately people are worried that smart meters actually cause health problems and may not be as accurate as the meters we have right now. You can read more about the opponents of smart meters here. Electro magnetic radiation has caused problems for many people and even their pets. Even though utility companies want to save money by reducing their meter reader staffs, we need to heed carefully about the risks of this technology.

Southern California Gas is going to charge fees for people who do not want the smart meters installed, and if you object to their proposal you would be required to pay a service fee and a setup fee to continue being billed the traditional way. Those on the CARE program would have a setup fee of 10.00 and a monthly fee of 5.00 a month. Then, customers not on the CARE program would have a setup fee of 75.00 and a monthly fee of 10.00.

If you want the proposal to view you can visit the SoCalGas website.

If you want to comment about this proposal you can write to CPUC’s Public Advisor’s Office (PAO), 505 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco CA 94102. Please reference application no. A.12-05-016 in any correspondence.

Change Your Passwords

Recently users of Linked In and Last.FM had their passwords hacked. Personally as a user of Last.FM I changed my password as soon as possible.

Please change your password or use programs such as LastPass, 1Password or Keepass to help manage your passwords.

With many companies not allowing us to have a password like 12345678 or PASSWORD, having a good password manager program is an essential buddy in your online adventures.

Perhaps do a yearly event and go through your passwords and change them once a year and try your best to have a different password for each website you visit to protect your security.

Why Bother Paying Extra For More Data

T-Mobile closed the loophole where people were able to tether their phones to use the data on their tablets or laptops for free with the newest version of the Android operating system. Unless you want to be technologically savvy and root your phone to tether without any charges you are stuck to the walled garden of the provider.

I basically only use around 1gb of traffic, It might benefit me where I could save ten bucks a month on my data charges if I only end up being a casual user of the data services on my phone. If tethering is not doable on my phone, I would rather just pay less.

I am honestly confused where they are saying you need to pay for a 14.99 tethering plan, but they said they were throwing in tethering if you pay 5 bucks more in the 30.00 5gb plan. What is the right story?

I am going to try to be a data hog on my phone this month and find out if I really was throwing away $120 all for nothing.

Perhaps I will need to write a feature to encourage people to use up as much data as they paid for so they can get their value. As long as customers are not going hog wild on their data who cares what they do with the data unless they are downloading pirated software.