March 2020 M T W T F S S 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
- Amazon Echo
- Barnes & Noble
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So now on the 5th day home and all is well! I can’t wait to have the staples out on Tuesday! But today isn’t about me.
I just wanted to thank all the kids that are participating in the “March For Our Lives”, I think if there is a group that will get Congress to listen it’s our kids! They are the future of America and I truly believe they will save this country, I look at my kids who are socially involved and it amazes me what they can accomplish! Here all I thought they are only interested in video games.
So on this day please thank those kids that are making a difference they know what’s up and they ARE going to fix it!
I’ve had cellular service on each of the major carriers: Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T. The one constant across each: I don’t use alot of minutes, text or data, and have wound up paying for more than I used.
So, it made sense to try Ting Mobile and see how much money I can save with ‘pay only for what you use’ service. Ting bills itself as “A smarter way to do mobile. The average Ting bill is just $23 per phone, per month.”
In case you haven’t heard of Ting, and I hadn’t until just recently, Ting was tied for first place by Consumer Reports for traditional (post-paid) cellular plans.
Ting Mobile benefits:
- No contract.
- Low cost (depending on your usage).
- Ting offers a rate calculator to estimate your bill before you sign-up, and a useful dashboard for customers to keep track of usage.
- Excellent customer service (I contacted chat with a technical question… quick & helpful).
- You can choose either GSM (T-Mobile network) or CDMA (Sprint network) when you set up your account. (I chose GSM.)
- You can bring your own device (I’m using my unlocked T-Mobile Note 5).
- Probably not the best choice for a teen, someone who travels frequently, or someone who uses alot of data.
- Ting Mobile doesn’t offer visual voicemail. (I use my Google Voice account for visual voicemail, and it works great with Ting.)
Something interesting about Ting: They actively offer advice for ways to limit your usage. One tip: Making calls via Hangouts app over wifi — thus using no Ting voice minutes — this has worked well for me when making outgoing calls from home.
I want cellular network coverage where I spend my time (home & work) and great customer service… Ting provides both and I’m pleased with Ting Mobile. If you’d like to try Ting, you can use this referral link to save $25 on your Ting device or Ting service.
Questions? Add a comment.
I recently picked up a BlackBerry Passport after initially pooh poohing its industrial design but then seeing it well-rated by users. I’m happy to say, my initial reaction was wrong… after using the Passport (on AT&T), I like the Passport a lot and find its large square screen and innovative capacitive keyboard to be a breath of fresh air in the world of mobile tech.
If I like the Passport, why pick up a BlackBerry Classic? Several reasons:
- OS: I like BlackBerry10 and how it supports both swipe gestures and keyboard shortcuts (youtube link)
- Hardware keyboard: It just feels more satisfying to type out messages on hardware keyboards
- Hardware quality: Although surpassed by Passport specs, the Classic offers solid build quality
- Mobile OS Competition: BlackBerry is a mobile tech pioneer and I want to support the company in its turnaround
- Pricing: Most phones are priced at $500 or more off-contract, so $449 is an attractive price
My Classic arrived yesterday so I haven’t had it long enough to write a full review. I do like it, and here are some initial thoughts:
- Size: Its size falls between an iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 (H x W) although a bit thicker due to the battery
- Weight: After reading some reviews, I expected it to be brick-like in weight… oy! Unboxing the phone, I was surprised by how it felt “just right,” not too heavy, not too big.
- User experience: I didn’t realize how much I’d enjoy having “Back” and “Menu” hardware keys. Now, I’m nearly always clicking the Back key to minimize and then close apps (works with both BB and Android apps)
- Trackpad: It’s very cute and tiny 😉 I use it to scroll, much the way I use the Passport’s capacitive keyboard
- More pocketable: I love the Passport but it doesn’t lend itself to quickly answering when out walking the dog and I need to juggle holding the leash and the phone. The Classic’s size is more manageable for one-handed use.
Both phones use a nano-sim card so it’s easy to swap out and use whichever phone suits the occasion. I prefer the Passport’s big screen for intensive reading or web surfing (my vision isn’t great, so the larger screen helps), and prefer the Classic for running errands. Over the next few days, it will be interesting to see which phone I tend to use more frequently.
What do I say to folks who say the Classic is a 2011 phone released in 2014? Nothing. After all, selecting a phone is a personal decision — I take into account what I like and works best for me.
A few miscellaneous items that may be of interest to other Blackberry Classic / Passport users:
My “go to” apps –
- BB OS OEM apps:
- Maps (I like the BB OS maps, not sure why they get bashed)
- Browser (I ❤ reader mode)
- Connect to Dropbox
- BeWeather Pro
- NY Times
- Home Screen Plus (I like how it subtly inserts weather conditions onto the home screen)
- Washington Post
- BBC News
- Audible (gotta have my audiobooks! I’m using an older version of audible loaded from GoodeReader app store)
- Amazon Kindle
- Best Buy
I like the direction BlackBerry is taking and look forward to future products. Their current philosophy seems to be in sync with this Seth Godin post, which is a happy thing for BlackBerry users.
When Amazon announced the Echo, I dutifully signed up for an invitation since I didn’t have to buy it then and had time to ponder the purchase. When I received the email notification that Echo was now available for purchase (still by invitation), I ordered nearly immediately. I wasn’t sure how handy I’d find Echo but figured there’s only one way to find out… to try it out.
Despite wintry weather the day before Thanksgiving, the Fedex guy arrived on time bearing my Echo (he said he likes driving in the snow and wants to move to Maine :-)). I set up the Echo in the lower shelf of a small side table where I’d previously had my Definitive Technology cube speaker (that I’d gotten for an amazing $180 at Best Buy… love that speaker). I was sad to disconnect my Definitive Technology cube speaker but 1) Needed a spot that would limit the chances the cats would knock over the Echo and 2) Really, just how many BT speakers does a person need in their living room?
Set up was quick and easy using the Echo app on my Blackberry Passport. After setting up the Echo, I paired my Blackberry to the speaker via Bluetooth, to stream Audible.com audiobooks to the Echo from my phone.
So far, my greatest use for the Echo has been to ask about the weather, stream music, and add items to my grocery list while in the kitchen. I’ve always longed to be able to add items to my grocery list from the kitchen as I realize they’re running out, rather than having to go back to the living room to retrieve my phone. Productivity nirvana!
As James Kendrick mentioned in his ZDNet Echo review (recommended reading), Echo makes it very easy to stream music of any genre at the spur of a moment. I like new age (ambient/chill) music and leave it streaming in the background.
The Echo app displays your Echo query history, including graphics when appropriate (e.g., forecast if you asked about weather, or album art when streaming music):
So far, I’ve found Echo to be handy, easy to use, and inspiring. In fact, I’ve thought a lot about future enhancements I’d like to see and submitted them to Amazon for consideration:
- Stream audiobooks from user’s Audible.com library (rather than need to download and then stream)
- Sync with Google calendar, to play reminders already resident in my calendar. (Note: You can add reminders to Echo independently, and that functionality works very well.)
- Adding single items to a list is super easy. I’d love to be able to ask Echo to extend her listening period, in order to add multiple items to a list. (Currently, you can use the Echo remote to make it faster to add multiple items to a list but it’d be very cool not to have to use the remote.)
Echo is cool and one of the most innovative products I’ve seen in a while. I’ve reported a few minor bugs to Amazon. I figure some bugginess is to be expected considering it’s essentially in invite-only beta testing:
- I have the Echo app set to play a confirmation tone whenever I say “Alexa” (this is called the “wake up sound”). The tone is hit or miss, and I’d love for it to play consistently.
- The day before Thanksgiving, I asked Echo when the next holiday was… she replied with an April 2015 date 🙂
I’m enjoying Echo and it’s a great deal for Amazon prime members at $99. If you have questions, feel free to add a comment.
I confess, my initial reaction to news of the BlackBerry Passport release was wonder and some snickering. Had those folks up in Waterloo lost their minds? What on earth could they be thinking releasing such an odd looking phone?
And then Passports start shipping to customers and feedback was generally good. Bored with most current phones, I’d recently returned to my trusty BlackBerry Q10. And when the unlocked Passport went back on sale on Amazon for $599, I picked one up.
So, now that I have a Passport, what do I think?
• The screen is bright and gorgeous. It doesn’t feel cramped like so many phone screens
• The keyboard isn’t as odd to type on as some pro reviewers made it out to be
• The capacitive element of the keyboard is innovative and inspired
• BlackBerry Os 10.3 adds nice enhancements and bridges gaps I’d previously experienced. Audible android app works great so I can listen to audiobooks anywhere. My fitbit flex band syncs nicely with the fitbit android app, which is great for tracking my workouts.
• Sound through the speakerphone speaker is loud and rich
So far, so good! I’ll post additional thoughts after I’ve used the phone a bit more.
By the way, I typed this review on my Passport.
Jack watching (!!) my cat Hubert 4 days post-cataract surgery. (Jack’s face is a bit pink because I’d just cleaned the area around his eyes)
Jack and I have been sidekicks for about 5 years, and I’ve always considered his adoption one of the best things I’ve ever done. He’s a sweet, affectionate little guy and an absolute joy.
Several years ago, I noticed Jack bump into the curb during a walk. That made me wonder about his visual acuity (he has juvenile cataracts), and our vet referred Jack to a veterinary ophthalmologist for evaluation. The ophthalmologist tested both eyes and found that Jack had a detached retina (along with a cataract in his left eye), and had lost all vision in that eye. He also had a cataract in his right eye but she felt surgery wasn’t indicated at that point. We’ve had yearly checkups with the ophthalmologist since then, to monitor his eye health.
Fast forward to this spring when Jack had recurring inflammation in his right eye. We went to the ophthalmologist to get it checked out. She felt cataract surgery would be helpful for Jack’s right eye, and he was scheduled for further testing to better examine his eyes. His right eye was confirmed as a good cataract surgery candidate, and we started on the pre-surgical medication regimen (eye drops).
The period prior to surgery was a little stressful, since Jack has a lot of chronic health issues that can be challenging to manage. Thankfully, his overall health remained stable and we started the more intensive pre-surgery medication regimen on schedule last weekend. Jack was able to have cataract surgery earlier this week.
I really didn’t know what to expect in terms of outcome. My hope was that cataract removal would significantly reduce the ongoing inflammation Jack had been having, and that some level of vision would be restored — he’s become fearful of sounds outside as he’s lost his sight. I was blown away on surgery day when the ophthalmologist’s office left a voicemail saying Jack was awake and alert, surgery had gone well, and when he awoke the ophthalmologist had determined he could see again in his right eye!
There was a minor complication during surgery which precluded insertion of an intraocular lens. Although I’d hoped for lens insertion to give him the best possible vision, the ophthalmologist explained that despite not getting a replacement lens, he’s able to focus very quickly and his vision seems very good. This feels like a great example of not allowing the perfect to be the enemy of the good. He can see again…!
We went back for our 1-day post-surgery recheck on Wednesday. Here were the results:
We still have several weeks of post-surgery care (medication and rechecks) and I’m so glad he’s off to such a great start.
I am so grateful the surgery was able to restore Jack’s sight! I’d hoped it would help, and when we go out for walks now (post-surgery), I feel an overwhelming sense of wonder and gratitude that he can see again. Even our “quick” walks have become longer since Jack likes to stand and gaze at birds (and neighbors when they’re out). He’s noticeably more confident about approaching and interacting with neighbors… before his surgery, he’d want to visit with neighbors but seemed reticent as they’d walk closer to him.
I hadn’t expected the restoration of Jack’s vision to be such a profound experience but it’s truly been awe-inspiring to see how quickly it’s improved his quality of life.
While contemplating pursuing cataract surgery for Jack, I read several client stories online to get a better sense of their (and their dogs’) experiences. Reading their stories was helpful to me. I share Jack’s story in hopes that it’s useful to others contemplating cataract surgery for their dog.