Red Pocket Mobile offers some really attractive deals for light phone plan users. So when I discovered them in August earlier this year, I signed up my mom's phone (a Sprint Motorola Moto-e 2nd Gen) with the 100 voice minutes/100 texts/500 MB LTE plan. This was purchased via eBay for just $60.
There was a hiccup during activation- even though I provided the activation code along with the IMEI & ICCID, it would not work. We had to call customer service where the rep had to manually re-apply the code. But after that it seemed to work fine the few times she had used the phone.
Today she tried to use the phone, and got some sort of "Collect Call" message. So I logged into to the My Red Pocket Mobile portal, and it showed:
Account Status: Need Initial Refill
Account Plan: Annual $60 Plan
I bought the NVIDIA Shield Tablet K1 back in late December of 2015. Frankly I have not used it as often as I wanted to. This was mainly because my iPad Mini 2 has always been smoother and gets the job done quick. The Shield Tablet, even when upgraded to Android 7.0, always had issues slowing down & stuttering (sometimes for over 10 seconds).
Recently I powered it up after not using it for a couple of weeks, and noticed that the back cover in the bottom middle of the tablet, had popped open. Right away I suspected it was some sort of battery bulge issue. The Shield had been off and plugged in all this time for over a week. I tried to pop the cover back but it simply would not stay.
I've enjoyed using the built-in iOS mail app for both the iPhone and the iPad. I used to prefer the Gmail app but found the iOS mail app to be better all-in-one place for all my email accounts, including non-google accounts. Some of the advantages IMO of Apple's iOS Mail app include:
- VIP inbox which lets you see all the emails for designated "VIP" senders in one place. This syncs across to to the Mail app on MacOS computers as well.
- Pretty amazing feature that lets me annotate/sign a PDF document and send back
- Better privacy vs Google's propensity to gather user data
I have an older Logitech G11 keyboard plus a G13 Advanced Gameboard, and actually rely on the macros/shortcuts assigned to the G-Keys daily. Recently they all of a sudden stopped working, and it was a real pain to try and work around it, so I decided to try and solve the problem. The problem seemed to manifest itself after Windows 10 (with Creative Update) froze the other day and I had to restart without a proper shutdown.
Looking around the web for solutions, I tried the common ones:
- Unplug/re-plug the USB keyboard & gamepad
- Update to the latest Logitech Gaming Software (LGS), which I did to 8.94.108
- unload background software
- unplug other USB devices
- check to make sure the right profile is loaded in LGS
Unfortunately, none of those solutions worked. For instance, every time I press the G13, G14, or G15 key on the keyboard, the characters 1, 2 & 3, respectively, would type out instead of their assigned commands. The G13 key for me was volume up, and G16 volume down, but I was now getting 1 and 4 instead, which was pretty annoying! This is the same with the G13 game board as well.
I heard about Amazon upping the Amazon Chase Visa card cash back from 3% to 5% back for many months now. It is only for Amazon Prime members, which I am and have been for over a while, so I keep expecting to get a new card automatically from Chase.
But it never happened. So today I sent a secure message to Chase customer service, and this was their reply:
Thank you for contacting Chase about your reward points.
I would like to inform you that you must sign up for an eligible Amazon membership and begin earning 5% Back on purchases at Amazon.com. After having a paid Prime membership for 45 days, a new embedded metal Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card will be mailed. Since you do not have a current Amazon Prime membership, you can learn more through the various Try Prime links on the Amazon.com homepage.
To verify whether your card account earns 3% or 5% Back on Amazon.com purchases, sign in to your Amazon.com account and follow these steps:
- Visit amazon.com/youraccount
- Go to the Manage Payment Options page under the Payment Methods section
- Expand the details of your Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card to see how much you are earning on Amazon.com purchases
If your Amazon Rewards Visa Signature card is earning 3% Back on Amazon.com purchases and you have an eligible Prime membership, you can learn how to update your account to earn 5% Back on Amazon.com purchases.
We appreciate your business and thank you for being a Chase customer.
Chase Email Servicing
So I've had service with TPO Wireless, aka the People's Operator, for nearly a year. On the 14th of last month I decided to switch out. This was mainly because after my 4G LTE data is used up, there is zero data usable, not even at reduced 2G speed. But I found out it too late to cancel as they had already billed me for the next month. For some reason my TPO billing date changed from the 17th to 12th for the last few statements. Very annoying, but whatever- so I decided to do the switch in March instead.
So today was the day I wanted to do the switch, just to have some buffer time. I logged into https://store.tpo.com/my_account/ but could not locate an account number to help with porting out. I do have the pin from account creation. So I scoured their website for the phone number to call, but could not find any. But thankfully a search on Google returned their voice support #:
Called and they asked to verify the name & address on the account. First I asked to cancel and the rep said that would mean the loss of my phone number. Didn't want to do that, so asked for transferring out, and she provided the account number (which is certainly not the phone number). For me it was a 6 digit number. The pin number she provided also matched the one provided when I had started service with TPO.
I've had Time Warner Cable for broadband Internet Access for years now. About 3 years ago I got my own cable modem in the form of the Motorola 6141 Surfboard so to remove the monthly lease charge that Time Warner accesses. BTW Motorola sold its cable modem business to ARRIS, so the ARRIS 6141 is pretty much the same model. And for about 3 years now I have Time Warner's "Extreme"/"Ultimate" Internet which is supposed to give 100 Mbps downloads. It was working nicely, but starting at around 8 months ago, I started to have problem where the speed would slow down to between 1 and 7 Mbps. To fix the issue, I would power-cycle the cable modem, then everything would return to full speed. But it's a hassle, and brings the Internet down for 5 to 10 minutes for everyone in the house. When it was slow, I went to Speedtest.net, and the result was an atrocious 1.11 Mbp (this was in January):
The odd thing is that usually this slowdown occurs when there is heavy usage going on- many videos being streamed, concurrent downloads, etc. I don't want to accuse Time Warner of throttling speeds, because they say they don't, but the timing seemed odd. I have called Time Warner customer service several times to complain- and every time I would be assured that they will monitor the situation, send a "refreshing" signal, and the most interesting one came two days ago: the CSR told me to unplug the coax cable from the cable modem, touch the copper in the middle of the wire to "get rid of static electricity build-up". "That should do it", he assured. He also indicated that the signal levels looked fine to him from his end, that there was a firmware being pushed, but yeah he would be "monitoring the situation" as well.
But I have been doing my own investigation. I went to 192.168.100.1 in the browser which is the default internal IP for the SB6141 modem, and going to the Help section it indicated the following info regarding the hardware:
Model Name: SB6141
Vendor Name: Motorola
Firmware Name: SB_KOMODO-22.214.171.124-SCM01-NOSH
Boot Version: PSPU-Boot(25CLK) 126.96.36.199m3
Hardware Version: 7.0
Serial Number: ***
Firmware Build Time: Mar 6 2014 15:23:5
I had T-Mobile POST-paid phone service which I recently switched from. I had an iPad Mini 4G LTE attached to the account, and when I called to cancel the phone service, the rep told me that I would be charged $10 a month if I wanted to keep the tablet data plan going. I asked how come because it was supposed to be a free 200 MB for life plan, but she said that I was getting a $10/month discount to offset the cost. So I told her to cancel it, but she offered to convert it to a PREPAID plan so that in case I wanted to use the data I can still purchase a package.
"So I can't get the free 200 MB plan any more"?
"No, " she replied, "but switching to prepaid will enable you to buy data as you need."
I thought whatever so I agreed to have it converted. I thought perhaps I would need to change the SIM card, but she said no need. After several hours I logged into my T-Mobile account and noticed that the iPad had disappeared. And when I tried to test the tablet's cellular data, the iPad gave me the error message that there is no cellular data, and if I would activate. I click activate and got the following error message:
The Canon Pixma MX922 Multifunction printer does it all- print, copy, scan and fax. It even does Google Cloud Print (GCP), which to-date is the only way to print from a Chromebook. We had gifted both to a relateve (Steve), but unfortunately he could not the Chromebook to print. Steve even bought a USB cable, but obviously he didn't know about the severely limited printing functionality for Chrome OS systems. So when we visited Steve recently, I decided to try and get the Asucks Chromebook. Ooops I meant ASUS- a slip of the tongue, stemming the extremely poor customer service I had received from the company.
I looked at the printer- it is a massive, and looks larger than many PC's today. It has a nice, bright control panel, which helped. First, I had to get the printer to talk to Steve's wireless network, so I navigated to the Wifi setup section, picked his access point, then entered the password via the keypad. It took longer than expected to connect, but it did.
Next, still on the printer, I navigated to the "Web Services" section and located the Google Clould Print option. I went ahead began the registration process, but it would always end with a message such as "Server Unavailable - Try Again Later". Then I tried Canon's own "Print from Email" webs service, and that printed out an authentication URL. Unfortunately Steve gave me the wrong email address and that botched the entire process. When I tried again, many times, it would also give the same server error message.
Recently I had purchased a refurbished Benq RL2455HM computer monitor via a sale by Benq Direct. Although the highly-praised screen is made more for gaming with its 1ms response time, we had used it with an Amazon Fire TV Stick as a TV for the kitchen. The RL2455HM works well for that purpose, but unfortunately it is a real pain in the butt to change the volume as you have to literally press different buttons 10 times reach the menu to do it.
Overall, even though that was a pretty nice setup, obviously the new Apple TV 4 is the better video streamer, especially with its support for apps. I had the Apple TV 2015 connected to a big screen Samsung TV in the living room, but ironically we were watching shows on the Benq 24" monitor more and more lately, so I decided to make the switch for several reasons:
- I was thinking about cancelling Amazon Prime. This decision certainly is not based on the terrific customer service Amazon provides, but rather because of Prime's dwindling benefits for me. Its video service doesn't have a great selection of shows, and the ones we have pretty much watched most of the ones we liked as a family, such as The Amazing Race (yes, all 27 seasons worth!) Prime Music is meh, and the unlimited photos storage is not a good experience to upload from the PC (lots of hiccups during uploading) and access from apps (slow loading the photos).
- Slow Plex streaming performance on the Amazon Fire Stick for HD videos recorded with Windows Media Center. I still have not upgraded my main PC to Windows 10 yet from 8 because I still use Windows Media Center to record over-the-air (OTA) shows such as MasterChef. On even the iPad 3 I can reliably stream those shows via Plex from the PC, but the stream is unwatchable via the Fire Stick.
Bing Rewards is pretty nice way to earn small prizes (or chances to win big awards) while doing what you would normally do anyways on a daily basis- use an Internet search engine. Since Google is so dominant, Microsoft has had to resort to the Bing Rewards system to entice users to use Bing more. The strategy has worked, at least for me- I've set Bing as the default search engine on all the browsers I use. I even set the Bing Dashboard as one of default/home pages when I launch Firefox, to take advantage of their daily "free" points (there are usually 3 of them).
Unfortunately about 1/3 of the time I am unhappy with the search results and have to use Google, but for the most part it's been a more than acceptable compromise since I have been able to accumulate 16356 "credits" to date, which I have redeemed for more than $150 in Amazon gift cards, $5 at a time. As a "gold" member, I am able to get a $5 Amazon GC for 475 points, a "discount" of 50 credits.
My wife does the same thing, though recently she ran into two problems. First whenever she tried to redeem for her Amazon code, it would just send her redemption page instead of the order form. Secondly, the cost for the $5 Amazon gift card shot up to 775 points.
I wanted to create an array in Swift that contained the names of every day of the week, e.g. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc. Obviously, I can do something like the following:
But the problem was that I also wanted those names to be localized into other languages without having to manually create one for each. I knew that iOS Objective C/Swift supported automatically translating date names using NSDateFormatter, but I wondered if there was a way to achieve what I want without passing and converting actual, specific dates such as "2016-01-01".
let daysOfWeek = ["Sunday", "Monday", "Tuesday", "Wednesday", "Thursday", "Friday", Saturday"]
Google's PageSpeed Module has had a lot of praises heaped upon it for its ability to perform a myriad of performance optimizations to help web servers deliver content quicker. I had tried it in the past on my servers (running CentOS & Apache) but was always hit by heavy, unacceptable server loads. So I've always had to just go back and disable it. That was actually a couple of years ago, so recently I gave it another go. I downloaded the latest beta version (mod_pagespeed version 188.8.131.52-7423). Installation was easy, though I ran into a hiccup because I had a previous version installed, so I had to first uninstall it:
rpm -e mod-pagespeed-stable-184.108.40.206-2005.i386
rpm -Uvh mod-pagespeed-beta_current_i386.rpm
worked like a charm.
So I left it at the default settings, and just let Pagespeed do its magic. I then went to Pagespeed Insights to quantify any performance difference, and it did gave 4 to 5 points better scoring for mobile. Though on at Webpagetest.org the results were mixed, though I was able to tell from the performance filmstrip mode that the sites started rendering on screen faster, which is always a positive. Checking on the iPhone, and I did feel that the sites were feeling snappier. Great- or so I thought.
So I was working on Xcode 7.1.1 (using Swift 2.1) on my new app, and decided to localize it. I'm relatively new to Swift and iOS development, but so far. so good. I wanted to share a couple of "gotchas" I ran into while trying to internationalize my app. My biggest first stumbling block was not naming the localization strings file correctly. It has to be named:
When I created my strings file, I had named it "localization.strings", and was wondering why in the world the NSLocalizedString() was not converting the key value to the translated one as specified in my file, as well as the language sub-versions.
T-Mobile's Simple Choice Plan is a terrific option for those who travel out of the country a lot on business or vacation. For instance if you go on cruises you will find it quite indepensible to have access to Google or Apple Maps while roaming around exploring a foreign port city, trying to access your pre-planned points of interest. Also the fact that T-Mobile recently added twenty additional countries to this plan. One new one I've noticed include Croatia which was not there last year.
For the past two years, after returning from Europe cruises, I've noticed that my T-Mobile bill garner oddball data roaming charges even though I had only used data in the free countries (all the ones in Europe are now free, BTW). Much of this was charged on the cship by the cruise line's "Cellular at Sea" service, but no way we were getting legit data from that because you had to purchase an Internet Wi-Fi plan to go online from your device. Also if you ever get a voicemail, you would be accessed $5.99, even though you did not call to check- talk about a bunch of crock. I was able to complain to customer service and they did take out the invalid charges, but not without the "next time we won't do this" warning. I also requested each time to have T-Mobile block these fraudulent data charges but they would say that the only option is to block international roaming all together, which would defeat the purpose of the only perk that keeps me with this company & its Simple Choice plan- free 3G data abroad.
Today I logged into My T-Mobile and noticed to check my bill, and noticed that I was able to change my plan to "Simple Choice North America" for the same $50 a month price. It was a no-brainer as that plan gives you free talk and text to any other North American country, but it was strange how they didn't just automatically switch over my plan. So I encourage you do that when you get the chance.
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