Thursday, October 19, 2006

Verizon Wireless Disaster part 2

This is part 2 of a series discribing the mistake I made of changing my cell phone service to Verizon. The first part of the story begins here.

Around the middle of this year my contract with Cingular was ended. My wife had the idea to switch to Verizon for a number of pretty good reasons. Frist, her family all uses Verizon which would make for free minutes any time we talk to them on the phone, which for my wife is very very often. Second, Verizon is the only carrier that has service (very hard to find a spot with a signal) at Lake Powell. If you are not using Verizon and you happen to get a signal, you are required to provide a credit card number and charged large sums of money for your call. This might be a regional monopoly, but what does the government care about monopolies or price fixing (see gas prices of 2006, and Microsoft for further reference)? So the choice was made to make the switch.

It's no secret to anyone who's ever ridden as a passenger in my car that I have a difficult time getting to where I want to go. My wife critisizes this little problem quite a bit. I don't know where the local steak house is, I turn down the wrong street on my way to the movie theater, I'm not sure how best to get to the closest mall. However, given an address for my destination and I have no problem at all, at least not here in Utah.

When picking out a phone for my new service and 2 year contract (read: indentured servitude), I was pretty interested in the phone that had GPS capabilities. Verizon has this feature you can subscribe to called vzNavigator. It works like any other GPS address finder in that you type in the address and it tells you step by step where to turn. You can see how that might be good for someone like me if I were somewhere unknown and happen to have addresses for everything. Well, I would soon be going to Florida with my family so it really was something I was planning on using. So after picking out the 2 GPS capable phones and the cheapest phone service (my wife and I have never used more than 700 minutes a month between us), signing my name on all the lines we're good to go, almost. I had to make a trip back to the store a couple days later to straighten out some paperwork that was filled out wrong for the rebates (which woudn't show up for several months later).

Next time we'll talk about that Florida trip. ;)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Going Wii

I'm not real big into consoles. They're OK, but they rarely have the kinds of games I like to play. I've never seen a good FPS or RTS on a console. I don't think it can be done.

I have no desire to own an X360, PS3 isn't really exciting me too much either. Can you say "rediculous prices"? I knew you could. They guy in the cubical next to me holds preorder ticket number 16 at his local gamestop. He just left work (2:20 PM) to go get in line for the Wii preorder at his local gamestop. Despite the retarded name I'm considering getting a Wii. When I say that though it really might not be till next year. I haven't played a zelda game since the first 2, but the controller for the Wii really makes it tempting.

Nintendo will win this gen console war. A lot of people are saying that. I tend to agree with them, but this article at Gamasutra solidifies it for me. Note how nintendo is trying to help developers make games as effortlessly as they can. This is a page right out of the Microsoft playbook. Help the developers make software for your platform and your platform will dominate. Software engineers aren't down with the whole self torture thing by nature. If there is a tool or environment that makes life easier (without hurting performance) we'll take it (and some seem to not care about that performance part).

Update: My co-worker and his friend were 1st and 2nd in line of 14 available Wii (is that the plural?). He said he'd rather wait in a line all night in October than in December, when all the mom's will desperately be trying to get one of these in freezing temperatures.

Verizon Wireless Disaster part 1

The real information I wish someone had been candid about before switching cell phone service. The true story you won't find on the official Verizon Wireless website. Over the next few posts this will be my cell phone provider review.

Right near the beginning of this century I felt it was time that I have a mobile phone. I wasn't too picky about the phone itself, but I took time and care in deciding on the service provider. Back then AT&T was a very strong company and had a solid network, so they are who I went with.

In early 2002 I got married. My wife used voicestream for her cell phone provider. After seeing my wife's phone bills and how bad the service was that she received, we waited out the contract and promptly added her as a second line to my contract. Voicestream is now T-Mobile which while having pretty good rates for their plans, it's far better to be able to hear the conversation you are trying to have.

A while back Cingular purchased the wireless portion of AT&T which concerned me quite a bit. It didn't take long for the anxiety to subside. I was receiving the same clear calls I always had. My calls were also not getting dropped. The only problem that cropped up was the occasional instance of the network being "too busy". It usually only took a quick redial to correct that. This happened at peak time of course, but very rarely, and hasn't happend in over a year.