Friday, December 26, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
I had multiple failures, usually during the Ubuntu partitioner program. I could always run Ubuntu from the CD but that, of course, was VERY slow. I stumbled around with Ubuntu and eventually tried something that wanted to create a boot on my four gig USB flash drive. By this time I figured, what the heck. It created successfully and I rebooted to try to create a new partition for Ubuntu and load Ubuntu into that new partition on my hard drive. The Ubuntu partitioner program failed again, this time with an inability to do anything other than wipe out Windows and have Ubuntu take over the entire hard drive. This would happen when the Ubuntu partitioner program failed AND I did not reboot to Windows so that Windows could fix or at least stabilize the hard drive.
Then I removed the "bootable" CD but left in the bootable USB flash drive and rebooted. Ubuntu booted off the USB flash drive. There was no dual boot with an option to boot to Windows but it booted Ubuntu OK. The best part is that USB flash drive is MUCH faster than the CD. It may be faster than the hard drive since it's solid state memory. Ironically, the USB flash drive's four gig is the same amount as that in the Dell Mini 9 netbook PC that Dell had loaded with Ubuntu Linux 8.04.
I am sending this message from FireFox browser within Ubuntu Linux 8.10. The real test will come when I try to load Skype.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
What does Ubuntu mean?
Ubuntu is an African word meaning 'Humanity to others', or 'I am what I am because of who we all are'. The Ubuntu distribution brings the spirit of Ubuntu to the software world.
Could they be more condescending to black Africans whom I assume are their intended beneficiaries, not middle class people in developed countries like me. I'm OK, you're OK in African. Some snooty Latin phrase was unavailable? Or an English word unused by more than a dozen people?
Notice when clicking through Ubuntu installation screens the button to continue is called Forward, not Next. I guess Next is contaminated by Microsoft Windows. Too many people are familiar with it. That decision must have gotten an extra beer at Miller time.
I just debased myself and ordered Ubuntu on CD. Hopefully by the time it arrives in "4 to 6 weeks to deliver, depending on the country of shipping", I will have become completely despondent and bought a MacBook, outrageously overpriced plus $300 by Apple.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
You would think that I had been successful. WRONG!
If I choose Ubuntu it boots into Never Never Land. I have to hold down the power button to get it to shut down. Eventually, I powered on and chose Windows. I was never so glad to see that Microsoft WindowsXP opening screen.
I never did get my PC to boot from either the USB flash drive or the CD drive. Totally by accident I stumbled onto the Ubuntu install. How? From Windows I opened My Computer and clicked the CD drive to see what, if any, files had been successfully copied onto the CD. I had given up on burning stuff onto it. Real Player software wanted to burn audio files. Anyway, the Ubuntu installer auto ran. Wow. I thought I was in. Silly me.
I chose the option that Ubuntu states is seldom needed to let Ubuntu help me boot from the CD drive containing Ubuntu. Rather than run Ubuntu as a sub task under Windows I chose the Ubuntu partitioning utility. Of course, along the way it failed and after that I had no idea what happened other than going once again into Never Never Land. Hold down that power button, here we go again.
I am not sure where things are, other than greed is good and good old WindowsXP still works despite the recent abuse to my PC. I will try to install Ubuntu again. I may be able to run it from the CD bit what good is that?
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
That's an increase of $30 per month. I thought $15 was bad enough.
In addition, my Verizon FIOS flex bundle requires that I have both video AND Internet service. Replacing Verizon FIOS Internet with Verizon Wireless BROADBANDACCESS would cause my FIOS video service to increase from $40 to $48 plus 14% tax on video service.
That's a total increase for the Internet switch of almost $40. Ouch! NOT what I had in mind.
The only way that it makes money sense is to cancel Verizon Wireless voice: $40 plus 24% tax = $49.61.
Wow, I would SAVE about $10 per month. However, I would need to exist with Skype as my only voice service. That would absolutely require getting that Cradlepoint router to work with my Verizon USB760 modem. Then I could take Skype on the road. Here is the latest from Cradlepoint:
Unfortunately your device is currently not supported at this time. We are constantly trying to expand our list of supported devices and hopefully in the future we'll be able to support your device. With every firmware update we expand this list so please keep an eye out on our website. There have been reports from customers who've been able to get some devices to work on our router that aren't on the supported device list. Even so, we wouldn't be able to support these devices if they aren't on our list.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Cancellations/Early Termination Fee: An Early Termination Fee may be assessed against you in the event that you terminate your Wireless Service Agreement and/or selected plan before the expiration of its term. The fee will begin at $175 per device and decrease by $5 each month for the term of the agreement. You may cancel your service, for any reason and without incurring the Early Termination Fee, within thirty (30) days of signing your Wireless Service Agreement, PROVIDED, however, that if you cancel service you will remain responsible for any service fees and charges incurred. If you cancel within three (3) days of signing your Wireless Service Agreement, you will be entitled to a refund of your activation fee, if any. If you exercise this option, you may be required to return devices and associated accessories purchased in connection with your Wireless Service Agreement.
This does not exactly answer my questions. If I cancel between 3 and 30 days may I keep the iPhone? There has got to be more or lots of people would do it. I wonder if the emphasis would be different if I bought the iPhone at an Apple store v. an ATT store. Apple just wants to sell product. ATT wants the service money each month.
Maybe there is additional language that jacks the price of the iPhone up to $600.
Wireless usage so far is 700 meg since Dec. 3. That is about 23% of a month and usage is about 14%. Good.
I need to check what the penalty is for buying a new iPhone and canceling the service within 30 days. Cannot buy online from ATT. Even if I pay a penalty it may be worth it after what I saw on eBay yesterday. Prices around $550 for a $200 iPhone 3G. Verizon charges $175 but ATT/Apple may charge more if they anticipated my thinking. Also, may I keep the iPhone after cancelling the ATT service? Is there an additional penalty for that?
apple.com let's me order an iPhone 3G online. Along the way I get this:
An eligible data plan for iPhone is required. This data plan does not cover international data usage and charges. AT&T reserves the right to add an eligible data plan to your account and bill you the appropriate monthly fee.
All plans require an AT&T service agreement and are subject to AT&T credit approval. A wireless service plan with AT&T is required to use the wireless phone capabilities of your iPhone.
Notice: An eligible data plan for iPhone is required... AT&T reserves the right to add an eligible data plan... A wireless service plan with AT&T is required to use the wireless phone capabilities of your iPhone.
They may have anticipated my thinking. No penalty info has popped up and I do not want to push it any further. Maybe the regular two year commitment is enough and ATT would try to collect it all instead of messing with a $175 penalty.
I also need to check if Verizon Wireless still has those plans for old farts: emergency use only, never turn on the phone, 30 minutes a month for $15-20. They do not pop up on the web site.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Getting an iPhone 3G online is more expensive and unsure than I had expected. eBay is a mess. I do not know how it makes money.
3gstore is showing too much attitude on the Cradlepoint wireless router part:
Had you consulted us before buying the USB760, we'd have warned you that it does not yet work with any router, and that we already knew it would not be officially supported by cradlepoint for at least as long as you have left on your 30-day trial.
we do not control what cradlepoint decides to do or not do. all we can do is influence, and that only goes so far. thats why we suggested that if you know you must have a device compatible with a router, you return the USB760 and start over with a USB727. feel free to get your USB727 from whomever you want. getting it from us at least guarantees you get what you need/want, not what someone at a verizon store wants to sell you simply because its the smallest, new-kid-on-the-block.
there is nothing 3gstore can do for you to "resolve this matter" by the time your 30 day trial runs out, ASIDE from suggest you start over with a USB727 and of course we would suggest our services over some verizon store who wouldn't know the difference between a cellular router and a FM radio.
not sure what you expected us TO do.
PS: "resolved" means the ticket needs no further action unless the respondent asks another question. this ticket is again, resolved.
Hey, 3gstore guy, I told you that I selected the USB760 myself and ordered online, the only place that it can be bought. I did NOT buy it from some guy in a Verizon store trying to unload his old inventory. I got ahead of the game. I'm not a dummy, like a guy who dumps on his customers. What happened to the old saying that the customer is always right?
Another reason that I got the USB760 is that it was supposed to be the only Verizon Wireless BROADBANDACCESS modem that worked with Linux. Remember that. Verizon Wireless BROADBANDACCESS techies called me four times over the weekend, speaking to me once. Firist I was told that no Verizon Wireless BROADBANDACCESS modem worked with a Linux PC. When I pointed out that the Verizon Wireless BROADBANDACCESS web site saiid that the USB760 worked with Linux, they checked and conceded the point. When I asked which of the many versions of Linux, they disappeared into the Verizon Wireless BROADBANDACCESS black hole and have not returned. I did not mention that I had already returned the Linux PC last Monday because it had given every indication that nothing would work on it that had already been loaded on by Dell. Linux is a Tower of Babble.
The Verizon Wireless BROADBANDACCESS service has been spotty. Mostly OK. Sometimes slow. Sometimes very slow. Sometimes very SLOW. This morning I switched to FIOS WiFi. Now back on Verizon Wireless BROADBANDACCESS service.
Cannot test the fring program until I get an iPhone.
I even checked Apple MacBooks. Least outrageously overpriced is the old model: $1,000. It was $950 on black Friday, the sale day after Thanksgiving.
If I had to decide now, I would stick with what I have now. I know it works. Verizon Wireless voice service is rock solid. As mentioned in my original post on this, I could always use my current stuff over existing public WiFi: PalmTX with WiFi to browse and my Skype WiFi phone for voice.
Monday, December 8, 2008
If I can somehow get Skype voice to work native on an iPhone (a long shot)
Silly me. It's already been done:
I have not tried it but it appears to be exactly what I was looking for, a program that runs Skype voice (not just instant messaging) in native mode on an iPhone without dialing out through the old phone network. Cool.
The best part is that Apple sanctions it so no jailbreak is needed to install it on Apple's iPhone. Supposedly it can be downloaded from the Apple App Store but I cannot find it there.
I wondered how this conformed to the exclusive deal between Apple and AT&T.
Offical Fring app for iPhone and iPod Touch limted to WiFi for VOIP due to Contractual Agreement with Apple
That's exactly what I wanted, to use Skype via WiFi. Very cool.
Now my concern is: how does fring.com make money? Maybe they hook lots of users and then introduce a cost. Maybe they introduce a premium version later on.
Friday, December 5, 2008
The same should apply to Internet service.
Currently, I have Verizon FIOS Internet service in my home. It works well. However, as soon I go out my Internet service is left behind. I want to take it with me.
Eventually, maybe within 24 months, we will have that as a reasonably affordable option due to the recent FCC ruling on the use of spare capacity in the airwaves. There will be generic wireless Internet service. See Clearwire.
I am trying to accomplish that now, at least functionally. However, billing plans and devices from traditional wireless companies preclude that. For instance, Verizon
has three Internet services:
1. FIOS for home: $52 per month
2. Wireless PDA/SmartPhone: $45 per month
3. Wireless BROADBANDACCESS: $60 per month.
Those three would cover everything for $157 per month. Yikes! Who the heck is going to pay that for personal wireless Internet service?
The old line wireless companies, especially Verizon, will be outflanked when the new service providers take hold. Verizon has the best network but limited devices (no Wi-Fi) and unimaginative plans (no roll over minutes). The network advantage will not prevent Verizon from being threatened by ATT in the short run and by the new competitors in the long run.
Skype provides easy to use Voice over IP (VOIP) for free to other Skype accounts and for very little to regular phone numbers. In addition to regular Skype voice service, Skype has a special wireless service that is only available in Europe but eventually this and others like it will available in the U.S. Check:
With 3skypephone you can use Skype when you are out and about, or away from your PC.
What we will all have is a mobile Internet connection that can be used for many functions including voice service.
OK, back to my plan. I am in the first few days of a thirty day trial of the Verizon Wireless BROADBANDACCESS service. I have the Verizon USB760 modem. It is about the size of my thumb. It is inserted into a USB port on my laptop PC and provides a connection to the Internet at about the speed of DSL, Verizon's broadband technology that has been replaced by the faster FIOS.
If I decide that the speed and usage can displace what I have with FIOS, I will replace FIOS with BROADBANDACCESS. So far, speed is acceptable, however, I am concerned about usage. In four days I have used a quarter of a gig of the five gig allowance that Verizon provides.
The difference in retail cost is $60-$52=$8. However, I have a flex bundle from Verizon, which associates my Verizon Wireless voice service with my Verizon FIOS video and Internet services and reduces my FIOS costs. I pay $40 for FIOS video and $45 for FIOS Internet. So switching from one Verizon Internet service to another would cost me an extra $15 per month but with increased mobility. I have asked Verizon about a discount for getting two or all three of its Internet services but there is no such discount. Argh! Verizon, wake up!
If I switch to BROADBANDACCESS, then phase two begins. I will get a special router (Cradlepoint Personal Hot Spot - PHS300 Battery Powered EVDO Router) sold by 3gstore. Just to make things more interesting I learned that my hot shot BROADBANDACCESS Verizon USB760 modem, the newest and smallest, may not work with ANY router. It has not been tested yet by Cradlepoint or 3gstore. Other Verizon, ATT and Sprint wireless modems work with various Cradlepoint routers.
Phase two would be this: get a modem that works with the portable router. The modem plugs into the router. That provides the router with a connection to the Internet from wherever it is. The router also has Wi-Fi. That means that I have my own hot spot wherever I am. I can connect a PC but I could have done that by simply plugging the modem into the PC. I can connect multiple PCs. I can connect a PC and a Wi-Fi enabled device such as a non-Verizon smartphone, Palm, iPod Touch, iPhone, Skype Wi-Fi phone, which I have, etc. Ah, now you get it.
If I can somehow get Skype voice to work native on an iPhone (a long shot), then I can get a jailbreak iPhone and use it to make voice calls over the Verizon, not the inferior ATT, network for free.
Worst case, I can take my mobile hot spot out and use my current stuff: PalmTX and Skype Wi-Fi phone. The router is about the size of the PalmTX hard case. That's three things to carry in addition to my Palm Treo 700P smartphone, which has only voice service because I do not want to pay $45 for the data plan on top of the $40 I pay for voice.
It would be nice to roll all that into one device but the billing plans make that unreasonable. Let's see how all this goes.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I had long been curious about the Linux operating system (OS), which is one of the many derived from Unix, developed at Bell Telephone Laboratory in the late 1970s. Linux is especially well suited to the communications needs of small devices.
I ordered my mini 9 with the Dell installed flavor of Linux: Ubuntu 8.04.1. It is loaded with most of what you would need to connect to the Internet. It also has Open Office, which like Linux, is open source and free.
As bad as WindowsXP is in providing info on Internet connections, at least it provides info on Internet connections. With Ubuntu Linux it is largely a mystery. I was able to connect but it took quite a while before I got the hang of positioning my cursor over a changing mini icon in the top panel and trying catch a glimpse of the changing connection status. This info cannot be found through a menu.
One of the advantages of Linux is that it is stable. My system froze three times in less than a week. The worst was when I was selecting a system screen saver. Froze solid. If there was an equivalent of Ctl-Alt-Del I never found it. Had to remove the battery to restart. Yes, I read the documentation.
The one application that I really wanted to install was Skype, which does Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP). I found it at the Skype web site. Skype had different icons for the versions of Linux:
Fedora Core 6
Some have the same file as that for Ubuntu:
Notice i386 in the file name? Neither did I. Apparently Ubuntu or Dell's version of Ubuntu is NOT compatible with i386 architecture, as in the kind that Windows and MacOS run on. The bottom line is that I got error messages every time I tried to install Skype on my new netbook PC. I tried often.
Since Skype uses a proprietary protocol I considered an open Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) VOIP app, Gizmo5, but it did not have a version for Ubuntu:
The cryptic error message was innocuous enough, however, I did not understand it until a techie explained to me the short version that I just conveyed. No, not a Dell techie. Someone at Canonical whose number I received from a Dell person. The Canonical person explained that Dell had a bad habit of sending Dell customers to Canonical, which is not responsible for supporting Ubuntu on Dell PCs.
Dell had the same reaction as Microsoft several years ago when I had the temerity to ask for help when the OS balked at an attempt to install software on my PC. It seems that the OS provider cannot be expected to assist in such cases and that the OS is provided for its own enjoyment and not as a platform for running the nasty little applications written by those third party entities.
Apple Computers, of course, does not have as much of a problem as it maintains a stranglehold on the relationship between its hardware and OS. This accounts, but only in part, for its outrageously overpriced products.
I made a couple of other attempts to install other software, even breaking the install package provided in Ubuntu.
I also am trying Verizon Wireless BROADBANDACCESS, a wireless connection to the Internet, which runs at DSL speed. I bought the newest and smallest "modem", the USB760, which can only be ordered online, not in the Verizon Wireless stores. It was the only one that indicated that it could run on Linux.
Windows® 2000, XP, Vista and Mac OS X 10.4.0 or higher or Linux
By the time it arrived I had already returned my Dell mini 9. Just as well. The Verizon Wireless BROADBANDACCESS USB760 paper documentation provided gave no indication the company had ever heard of Linux.
After returning the Dell mini 9 I stumbled upon a PC Magazine online (it's only online now) review of netbooks:
Featured in this roundup:
Acer Aspire One ($319 street)
The Acer Aspire One is aggressively priced and will entice customers with its Intel Atom processor and a well-developed Linux operating system.
ASUS N10Jc-A1 ($650 street)
This netbook's advanced features—an HDMI port, nVidia graphics, and a big battery—cater to sophisticated consumers and small-business users with tight budgets.
Dell Inspiron Mini 9 ($424 direct after instant savings)*
Although it's not the best netbook available, the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 might have enough appeal to propel this category into the mainstream.
*The E-Value code for the configuration we reviewed is no longer valid. You can configure a Mini 9 on Dell's Web site the same way for $424 ($474 minus $50 instant savings taken off the purchase price).
HP Mini 1000 ($550 direct)
The Mini 1000 is arguably the sexiest netbook on the market, and it's the only one shipping with mobile broadband.
Lenovo IdeaPad S10 ($469 direct)
The S10 has all the essentials of a solid netbook, including a 10-inch screen, an Atom processor, and a 160GB hard drive.
MSI Wind ($400 street)
Out of all the netbooks available in the market, the $400 MSI Wind is the best deal.
Notice how blithely pcmag mentions Acer Aspire One ... well-developed Linux operating system. Yes, Linux indeed. The full review by pcmag states:
The Aspire One runs a customized Linux operating system called Linpus Linux Lite, which is basically a stripped-down version of Fedora.
Say what? Does the reviewer even know what that means? Does it support the newly important i386? Can it run something like ... oh... Skype? Linpus Linux Lite is not on the list of eleven Linux flavors that Skype thinks it can handle.
I really wanted Linux. I am still tempted to try it again. However, not before the mainstream media starts to evaluate it more seriously. Linux cannot continue to float on the niceties of open systems and free software for the masses. A profit driven entity would never get away with this. Linux may be free but it should not get a free pass. For now give me a netbook with ... dare I say it ... WindowsXP. Greed is good!