Tag Archives: new england

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!

What I learned from Irene


Last week into the weekend, the Caribbean and Eastern seaboard had an unwelcome guest: Irene. And, wow, was she ever ill-behaved.

There are those who scoff at Irene and media exuberance in covering her journey. Sure, those scenes of reporters nearly getting blown away in hurricane winds are a dime a dozen. But for those not impacted to scoff at a storm that killed 27 people adds insult to injury for those suffering in Irene’s wake.

Although Irene had weakened to a tropical storm by the time she reached Connecticut, she was all too memorable for many areas of the state: Beachfront homes destroyed by storm surge, freshwater flooding, numerous trees downed (many landing on homes) and 700,000 Connecticut households left without power…. not to mention post-storm flooding. For a clear, intelligent explanation of Irene and her impacts in Connecticut, I highly recommend Ryan Hanrahan’s post Irene — Why Was She So Bad?

I learned a lot before/during/after Irene:

Take authorities’ preparedness warnings seriously

  • I was lucky, my only damage was a blown-over shrub. I lost Comcast service for just a few hours and never lost power.
  • As I see damage reports from around Connecticut, it’s truly a case of “but for the grace of God, go I.” The human and property cost experienced by others could just as easily have happened to me.

When preparing for inclement weather, ask friends to send you mobile-friendly links.

  • Even if mobile networks are up, expect them to be much slower than usual.
  • When it comes to clicking links on a slow network, Tom Petty was right… the waiting is the hardest part.

Often recommended (with good reason), use text messaging to contact friends & family

  • Text messages queue up and continue to to attempt delivery until successful

Provide loved ones with trusted news sources (links) so they can monitor the situation from afar.

  • I mentioned Ryan Hanrahan’s blog above — I provided it to family so they could stay abreast of what’s happening locally.

Do what you can to reduce your own stress during the weather event

  • I had a fan running during the storm. It provided white noise, and let me better ignore some of the wind gusts.
  • Of course, at a certain point, there was no drowning out the wind noise. Still, running a fan helped a bit.

Buying a house you love costs the price of the house. Having great neighbors who will help you when needed? Priceless.

  • Help your neighbors whenever you can. Cultivate those relationships. Your neighbors become an extended family, especially when you live alone.

Share your stuff.

  • If your friend or neighbor has lost power or Internet, help them achieve some sense of normalcy.
  • If you have a tablet w/3g connectivity or battery-powered radio, share it with them so they can keep up with news. Being off the grid involuntarily increases one’s need to be informed.

And a point that seems to be all too obvious: If you weren’t negatively impacted by a weather event, great!!

  • However, be sensitive to others’ experience of the storm. Don’t add to their misery.

This last week has been interesting, and reinforced some basic lessons for me. For those impacted by Irene, whether due to loss of a loved one, property damage, storm surge or flooding, my heart goes out to you.

Disturbing allegations emerge following investigation of Windsor Locks accident that left 15-year old bicyclist dead

henry dangI normally write about movies and mobile tech. But sometimes a story is so heartbreaking that writing is the only way to process it emotionally….

Henry Dang, the 15-year-old Windsor Locks boy hit by a car when riding his bicycle home from a friend’s house, is one of those stories.

It would be easy to dismiss this story as simply a car vs bicyclist collision on a darkened roadway late one October night. And, not surprisingly, the driver’s lawyer has apparently made statements questioning the safety of a boy riding his bike home in the dark. Those questions seem reasonable.

However, serious and troubling allegations are being made about the driver’s behavior that night and suspicions that his police colleagues may not have investigated this accident strenuously as it involved one of their own.

Questions arose as news of the fatal accident started to become public – questions that would make any reasonable person revisit their initial impression of this fatal accident:

  • The driver who hit the boy happened to be an off-duty Windsor Locks policeman. The officer’s father was Windsor Locks PD’s highest-ranking officer at the accident scene that night.
  • A breathalyzer test was not administered, and apparently the driver would not consent to having his blood drawn once at the hospital.

Sadly, the boy died that night. And his family questioned whether there would be a fair investigation, considering the driver was an off-duty policeman in the town where the accident occurred.

From the Hartford Courant:

Hartford State’s Attorney Gail Hardy removed the regional team from the case two days later and turned the case over to the state police because of concerns about how the accident investigation was handled.

Perhaps she was just doing her job but I consider Ms. Hardy a hero… nothing will bring the boy back, but at a minimum, the boy’s family deserves to know the facts of the case. And if there was wrongdoing, the person responsible should be held accountable.

The driver has been arrested on several charges, including manslaughter. The investigation findings outlined in the arrest warrant make this case even more troubling:

  • Despite the posted 35mph speed limit in the residential area, state police investigators estimate the driver’s speed at 73mph at the time of the accident.
  • Apparently, the off-duty officer’s father refused to allow a regional accident investigator interview his son in the hospital that night.
  • Witnesses are confirming that the off-duty officer had apparently been drinking for several hours up to the accident. There is surveillance video showing him drinking at a tavern up to a half-hour before the accident.
  • The driver was witnessed by a nearby resident tossing something out of his car immediately after the accident – that object apparently was a bar glass. When the object was located by investigators, it still contained some beer.

There is more in the arrest warrant.

Aside from the obvious tragedy of a teen killed riding his bike home one night, Henry Dang seems to have been a good kid. In a region where the news is full of stories about kids who’ve gone astray, Henry Dang was apparently on the right path. And that just makes this accident all the more tragic.

Henry’s family wants (and deserves) answers about what happened that night. And thankfully, it appears they will get them. From the Hartford Courant:

Sources said state police are conducting a two-pronged investigation. The first part centers on the crash itself – with an emphasis on establishing a timeline of (the driver’s) actions in the hours before his car struck the teen.

The second aspect deals with how the initial investigation was handled.

My deepest sympathies to Henry Dang’s family.

January 20, 2009: An historic day