Monthly Archives: May 2012

My* film premieres today! Rising Star: A cinematic poem to Hartford


* Okay, it’s not really my film. But it feels like my film. Read on to learn why…

I’ve always loved movies. Growing up as a teen in Portland, OR, I’d escape the heat on unseasonably warm days at The Guild Theater. I saw an incredible number of wonderful old films there, including Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend.

Flash forward to late summer 2010…

I learned about a kickstarter project funding a charming Indie film about work/life balance that would not only film in Hartford, it would feature Hartford locations prominently:

Rising Star

I’d never used kickstarter before. I’d never helped fund a film before. I didn’t even know if I could write off my donation on my taxes (until then, a prerequisite).

I visited Rising Star’s kickstarter page several times and went on my way without donating. But something about the film kept drawing me back. How often do you see Hartford featured in film or TV as an attractive, interesting place? It seemed whenever Hartford is on-screen, there’s a focus on crime and blight. Such a sad depiction for a stately city with a rich sense of history.

I just couldn’t stop thinking about Rising Star. How wonderful it would be to see Hartford featured on-screen in a positive way!

When I lived in Portland OR & Seattle, I loved seeing the city I lived in (and loved) featured prominently in films, seemingly an unbilled cast-member. It was fun seeing the places I loved shared with the world on the big screen. Those films felt like a lovely poem to my city.

I knew I had to donate to Rising Star. So, I donated $52 (big spender, I know!). That $52 made me eligible for several things: An autographed special edition DVD, Soundtrack – CD or digital, Personalized thank you letter.

I didn’t it realize at the time but that $52 donation opened up a wonderful new experience learning about filmmaking. Director Marty Lang (twitter: @marty_lang) and Producer/Lead Actor Gary Ploski (twitter: @garyploski) shared Rising Star’s (twitter: @risingstarmovie) progress and the film’s every success with folks on twitter, facebook, and via email. I didn’t just feel like I’d donated to a film. I felt a part of the film.

I watched Film Courage’s interview with Director Marty Lang and learned how the good will of the community enabled the filmmakers to include so many lovely Hartford locations. I have a feeling the community was as excited as I to see Hartford portrayed in a charming, positive light.

I saw how diligently Gary Ploski shared information about the film’s progress and began to realize how much hard work is involved in making and promoting an Indie film. I saw Marty’s and Gary’s generosity and patience in answering questions about the film, and realized my $52 donation was actually an opportunity to support something wonderful, something magical.

Flash forward to May 2012…

Tonight, Sunday May 6, Rising Star will have its world premiere at the Seattle True Independent Film Festival. Please join me in congratulating Director Marty Lang (twitter: @marty_lang), Producer/Lead Actor Gary Ploski (twitter: @garyploski) and the rest of the cast and crew on Rising Star’s (twitter: @risingstarmovie) open!

Rising Star Official Trailer

Motorola Razr Maxx: How on earth did I overlook this phone??


Okay, I admit, I know the answer to this question.

Some background
Recently while using AT&T’s network, I received several important calls. During those calls, the caller sounded fine to me, but my voice was so broken up they had to anticipate my comments.  I swapped my AT&T sim to a different phone. Problem persisted. Callers simply couldn’t make out what I was saying.

I realized my AT&T service had degraded. So, I decided to check out other carriers.

My previous experience with Verizon? Not good
My last experience with Verizon over a year ago had been disappointing. I had to use a network extender to make calls from home. Any calls I received while out walking the dog went directly to voicemail.

However, reconsidering cell phone service now in 2012, I recalled that Verizon prepositions generators at their cell towers prior to storms. In fact, Verizon was one of the few cellular carriers whose calls went through during Connecticut’s prolonged 2011 power outages. During one of those outages (the Snowtober storm aftermath), my home was without power for 5 days. (Snowtober storm was the real deal…. trees/limbs weighed down with wet snow brought down power lines, and many CT residents wound up living in shelters for several days when temperatures inside homes dropped to about 40 degrees.)

During that power outage, network support for most carriers’ cell phone calls was spotty. I used my Verizon iPad to read local news and help retiree neighbors stay informed. However, being able to also make cell phone calls  while one’s  home electricity & broadband internet are out would be priceless! Good reason to give Big Red another try.

Once I decided to retry Verizon, which phone? I briefly considered Galaxy Nexus but felt underwhelmed when I tried it hands on. I like the iPhone but prefer Android, and besides already have a Verizon LTE enabled iPad.

Oh wait, there’s a Razr with extended battery life?!
During my research, I stumbled across several excellent reviews for the Motorola Razr Maxx. I was fascinated by the phone’s amazing battery capacity (3300 mAh) and decided to visit a Verizon store to see it. For more interesting numbers, see Motorola’s Razr Maxx specs page for all the details.

My initial impressions of the Razr Maxx

  • Surprisingly thin at 5.15″ x 2.71″ x 0.35″
  • Nice clear, bright 4.3” screen
  • Despite motoblur interface overlay, very fast UI response… No lag
  • Superb call quality on both ends, even at home.  (Verizon’s local LTE network upgrades clearly help here, as well)
  • Good photo and video quality
  • Blazing fast Verizon LTE speeds:
    • At home, on average: 12,000 mbps down / 1000 mbps up
    • In downtown Hartford: 23640 mbps down / 12379 mbps up

When I use a phone, my main interests:

  • Does it do all I want / need it to do?
  • Is it enjoyable to use?
  • Will it last throughout the day or will I have to launch a 2nd career to keep it charged?

The Razr Maxx is one of few phones I’ve used that handily satisfies all these criteria. Interestingly enough, another phone I loved that met all these criteria: The Motorola StarTac.

I’d previously overlooked the Razr Maxx because Verizon network coverage at my home had been subpar. Recent Verizon network improvements resolved those issues, and I’m thrilled with both the Razr Maxx and Verizon’s LTE network.

Bonus tip for Verizon LTE phone owners
Verizon Wireless is currently offering a 2x LTE data promotion. If you have an LTE phone (whether you’re a new or existing customer), contact Verizon customer service to get this promo:

2x 2GB = 4GB LTE data plan for $30
2x 5GB = 10GB LTE data plan for $50
2x 10GB = 20GB LTE data plan for $80

If you have an employer/organization discount on your account, the 5/10 and 10/20  LTE plans may be discounted even further.

Bonus tip for new Razr Maxx users
By default, Motorola sets its social networking app to sync whether you’re on wifi or cellular data (you’ll see it listed in Settings > Applications >  Running Services containing the word “friendfeed”). For me, that default setting initially caused incredibly disappointing battery life.

For phenomenal LTE network battery life, go to  Settings > Data manager > Social applications and select (put a check mark by) “Set Social Networking applications to only sync when connected to a Wi-Fi network”

There you have it, my Razr Maxx review. While it’s not the newest phone out (was released a few months ago), if you have or are considering Verizon Wireless service, don’t overlook this phone like I did. It’s a keeper!