Tag Archives: SaskTel

Why I hate the cloud.

I have had a Gmail account since Gmail opened it’s second round of invites years ago.  Users had five invites and because I was only two degrees separated from someone at Blogger, I got one.  It was like gold and it was amazing.  Within days I stopped using Outlook and started to rely on Gmail for all of my email.  The launch of Google Calendar meant that I could move my life to the cloud and it worked perfectly for me for years.  When I was at the Salvation Army Community Services, we used Google Apps to power email which meant that I never did need Outlook or anything there either.  With Google Calendar integration I could have my life at a glimpse.  While I was always frustrated that Google Contacts didn’t sync up Google apps and my personal address book, it worked well enough that I didn’t complain.

About six months ago a friend emailed from a major U.S. company.  I had sent him an unimportant email about a year earlier and he never got it until that day.  He blamed his company email system and I never thought about it.  During this time I would send my column to two different email addresses at The StarPhoenix and every once in a while I would get an email close to my deadline and it would be the editor asking for my column.  It kind of freaked me out but again I would think it was The StarPhoenix’s email system and I would send it again and it would be good.  I was using Google’s email system after all.  Now my editor just emails me back as soon as he gets it.  I still get nervous when I don’t get an immediate reply but he is human and could actually be doing other things but even two weeks ago I was surprised how long it took him to reply and I wondered if the column got there or if he was busy.   It isn’t just him, during that time I would email someone once in a while at The StarPhoenix and wouldn’t get a reply.  Some email gets replied to, some doesn’t and I figured it didn’t get replied to.

Then my email got hacked and it was a horrifying experience.  During that time I lost some email but blamed it on that.  I have a new password (my old one was only six letters and one digit long) and then brought in double authentication but I was still wondering why I didn’t get replies at times.  The last couple of weeks since I have had my new phone, it has been happening more and more and I was blaming the phone.  Like many of you, I have 3G connection issues in parts of Saskatoon and was wondering if that was the problem.  Over the last couple of days, everyone has been pissed off at me for missing emails and I realized I was also getting them out of sync.  I also fired off some important email and people are telling me they never got them.  That scared me because both were really tech competent people on reliable mail servers and the email was sent by my laptop via the Gmail interface.  No email client, no phone, just me and the computer sending to two different reliable email services. I contacted Google and haven’t heard a thing back.  I was searching my email tonight looking for emails that I knew I had not deleted and there was a massive hole from 2008 in it.  I know was recently hacked but those emails were restored.  No sign of it at all today.

I remember the rants that Tech Crunch used to have when Google Voice was offline and I now understand what they were so angry about.  Google isn’t just providing a service, they are providing a service I rely on dearly.  When the internet went down on my block, I can work around that, my primary email acct not working is horrific.  My friend Nathan had a horrible experience with Twitter.  It was mindboggling how stupid it was over a glitch that was completely their fault.  They finally just stopped talking to him about their problem and he was locked out of his account.  All of this contacts and followers were gone and there isn’t much you can do about it.

What’s even more bizarre is that when you read the Google help forums, I am not alone.  Some are user error but most are just disappearing emails.  The thing is that the reason I went to Gmail in the first place was because of Google’s reliability.   What I found out is that it is company that really offers no customer service at all.  They talk all of the time about the small % of users affected.  That’s great that it is .61% until you are one of the quarter of a million users that are affected and then it is no fun at all. 

The other hard part is that who do you contact at Google?  You can’t call them or write a support ticket.  You can leave a note in the forum.  Back in the days when Blogger was small and buggy, you knew you could email Ev or Biz and get a response.  Even today with Dreamhost, I can get a support ticket answered within minutes but I can’t with Google. 

I use Koodo as my cell phone provider.  It is horrible to use to send texts.  I just was sending texts back and forth with Seabass (if you know who I am talking about, you will get it) and I had about 10 “fail to send” texts but I know that my texts are not getting through and I know that he isn’t getting them.  Yet when I text’d a guy I’ll just refer to as Man-Bag yesterday, he said he never got it which is an entire other frustration.  Is it Koodo or Sasktel or the fact he may not understand his new iPhone.  It’s frustrating and now I am mad at Google, SaskTel, Man-Bag, and Koodo.  I’ll quit while I am behind.

I’d tell you to email me with your suggestions but I won’t get it.

Blackberry Curve Build Out

Blackberry Curve 8530 from Koodo MobileOn the 27th I went to Best Buy to take a look at DSLR’s on sale.  I didn’t see any DSLRs but while I was there, I saw that Koodo had dropped their price on Blackberry Curves to $150 and no contract.  I had thought about getting a LG Rumor 2 this year but after looking into it, we decided to get the Curve.  I had been quite happy with Virgin but I have had technical problems with my account for two years and it was getting worse.  While Virgin’s tech support and customer service staff have been really helpful, they still could not fix the problem so I finally decided to make the move.

Blackberry by RIMI took the phone home and started to set it up.  Here is how I put it together.

The first thing I did was get my Curve set up to our wifi connection in the house.  That wasn’t working that well.  Then I realized my router was about a billion years old (it was a 801b router) and it needed an upgrade.  Since my new router was on my desk, it was pretty easy to upgrade.  The Curve, my iPod Touch, and our notebook suddenly worked a lot faster.  I upgraded my old router’s firmware and will give it Computers for Kids and if they don’t want it, it can go to SARCAN.

Here is are the apps that made their way onto it over the last couple of days.

Utilities

Social Networks

  • foursquare app for the BlackberryFoursquare | It doesn’t yet use wifi but it allows you to check in and out all over the place.  It’s one of those apps that doesn’t make sense until you use it and then you love it.
  • Twitter | Umm, it’s one of the main reasons why I upgraded to a Blackberry.
  • Facebook (one the off chance for some reason I need to actually log in sometime… maybe in 2012)
  • Flickr | It’s an uploader that uploads my camera phone shots to Flickr.  It rather annoyingly resizes them but I’ll deal with that later.

News and Sports

Am I missing anything?  Let me know in the comments.

Sending SMS Messages via the web

I don’t always feel like reading for my cell phone every time I want to send a text message.  I have a bunch of these links bookmarked but I decided to post them here in case you didn’t know you could send a txt message via a computer. (Note: the recipient might get charged, of course, depending on their specific plan)

E-mail to text

There are some e-mail to text services, but the recipient usually has to have signed up and paid for this service, unlike the web forms above that are free:

[10digitnumber]@txt.bell.ca (Bell and Solo)
[10digitnumber]@pcs.rogers.com
[10digitnumber]@fido.ca
[10digitnumber]@msg.telus.com
[10digitnumber]@vmobile.ca (Virgin Mobile)
[10digitnumber]@mobiletxt.ca (PC Mobile)
[10digitnumber]@msg.koodomobile.com
[10digitnumber]@sms.sasktel.com and [10digitnumber]@pcs.sasktelmobility.com
[10digitnumber]@text.mts.net (MTS Allstream Inc./ Manitoba Telecom Services Inc.)

Note some providers (such as Fido) are forcing the recipient to pay an extra monthly fee in order to receive e-mail to text messages.

LG Bliss Review

LG Bliss cell phone

I was reading a couple of reviews for the LG Bliss and while I was okay with my Samsung Link, I would really liked a better web browser and some more app options.  Wendy went out and bought me one and I have had it for the last week.  Here are the pros of the phone.

  • Decent web browser.  Not as good as the iPhone’s but decent.  I can use Gmail’s text based or regular mobile interface as well as Google Calendar.  It is exponentially faster than the Samsung Link’s browser and hey, it actually renders websites properly.
  • The touch keyboard isn’t that bad.  After a week of using it, I have become fonder of it and faster using it than I was at the start of the week.  It is just something to get used to but is quite usable.
  • 2 megapixel camera.  While I won’t be printing off a bunch of photos taken with it, it is good enough to upload to Flickr.
  • Virgin Mobile only charges $10/month for unlimited web surfing.  That’s a great, great deal.  With the speed of the browser, it’s a service that I will be using a lot more rather than reaching for my iPod Touch.
  • The speaker phone is quite a bit louder than my Samsung Link.  I can toss it on the passenger seat and actually drive while having a conversation which is useful when I forget to grab my Bluetooth earpiece.

Cons

  • While it has a decent text messaging inbox, it doesn’t handle e-mail which I was sad about.  The inbox is so well designed that pop3 or IMAP capability would be amazing.
  • While Google java apps install, they won’t work because of the touch screen.  Quite annoying and the phone would go from good to amazing if it worked with Google apps.
  • I miss the “recently texted” list that the Samsung Link has.  It’s a great way to keep those that I am in constant contact with in easy reach. 

Overall, it’s not a smartphone and if I was RIM, I wouldn’t be that worried that it was going to eat away Blackberry marketshare but it’s cheap ($119 with no contract), works well as a cell phone, and pretty good as a digital media and web browsing device.  If you are a Bell, Virgin Mobile, or SaskTel customer, you may want to check it out.  As for the Samsung Link, it’s a great texting phone, has the Virgin Email App installed, is a great price ($69.99) but doesn’t get along that well with the web.  In the end, it kind of comes down to which you care about more, the web or email but both are good phones.  Wendy has a Samsung Link and I am happy with the LG Bliss… we don’t have any regrets with either purchase.

New cell phone

Samsung r610 I generally upgrade my cell phones about every five years or so.  To say I am a late adapter in this area would be an understatement.  Not only that but Wendy’s cell phone is almost 8 years old so she was due for a new one as well. 

After looking around for months, I decided to get a Samsung r610 and make the move to Virgin Mobile.  Believe it or not, it is also my first phone with a camera in it.

Everyone seemed shocked that I didn’t get a iPhone or a Blackberry but I have my iPhone touch which handles my e-mail, schedule, and has a enough games on it to keep Mark happy when he has to wait on me so I don’t really need a smart phone.

What I liked about Virgin was their rates and the fact that it used the SaskTel network in province.  While Fido and Rogers work okay in the cities, I need to leave the major highways once in a while and with Virgin I don’t have to sacrifice any coverage.  Now I just need to figure out how to send a photo via e-mail that I take.  So far, no success.  I hate to think that I need to crack a manual.

Best Pay As You Go Network?

I have been a long time SaskTel customer since Motorola came out with those massive flip phones back in the mid 90s.  I used SaskTel because of the coverage between here and Spiritwood which when you are driving that road 100 times a year you want good coverage.

After I quit Spiritwood, I didn’t have the need for a cell phone nearly as much as I used to and eventually I realized I was paying for a cell phone that I went months without using.  Finally we went to pay as you go cell phones.  A $25 top up would out last the three months it was good for.  In the end I was using about $7 of cell phone a month.

I am too old to text message, I don’t watch video on my phone, and I don’t need a smart phone.

We haven’t done that much traveling out of province the last couple of years by car and since we plan to travel to Edmonton over Easter break and then Calgary later this summer, I started to wonder if I need a cell phone that will work out of province.  I would prefer to stay prepaid if I could but if you have any thoughts on Rogers vs. Fido vs. Virgin vs. Bell, let me know in the comments.