Ever since I first heard about the Surface 3 with LTE, I was chomping at the bit to replace my Nokia Lumia 2520 with a better Windows tablet that included cellular capabilities. When I heard that the first devices would be AT&T only, and then T-Mobile I was disappointed. Then I heard about an unlocked version. When that unlocked SKU became available in mid September, I asked about Verizon. I couldn’t get an authoritative answer, but was told that a VZW specific model was coming. So I waited.

On November 12, I saw an announcement that Verizon was finally selling a VZW Surface 3 SKU. http://www.verizonwireless.com/news/article/2015/11/microsoft-surface-3-with-verizon-4g-lte-now-available-for-business-professionals.html. I tried to order online, but found that it was business customers only. Five lines, five devices. I called and was told the same thing. As a consumer, no chance. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper.

I decided LTE was LTE and that just had to be a way to get an unlocked Surface 3 LTE working on the VZW network. And I followed my instincts. Here are the steps. Don’t skip any.

1. Go to a Verizon company owned Store (not an agent)

2. They’ll need to add an unauthorized device to your account/plan (or swap out one that is already there).

3. They need to make a NANO SIM.

4. They need to place this NANO SIM in their demo iPad and activate it.

5. They need to turn WiFi OFF on the demo iPad and wait for the SIM to activate on the network and verify by successfully browsing the web.   Making the connection to the Internet with the activated SIM is a critical step. Don’t let the VZW tech tell you this is not needed.

6. Completely turn off your Surface 3.

7. Put the NANO SIM in the Sim tray and slide into your Surface 3.

8. Turn on the Surface 3.


On the Surface 3.

1. Open Settings, Network and Internet and turn Cellular ON if it is off. You should turn Wi-Fi off temporarily to test your LTE connection


airplane mode

2. You may need to wait a few minutes, but as long as you or the VZW tech followed the first 5 steps above, you should get connected to Verizon’s LTE network. You’ll see an icon in the task tray indicating signal strength and should be able to visually confirm your connection in the Action Center.



Network and Internet, Cellular will show Connected as well.


Trouble Shooting

If the above doesn’t work (it really should), a few things you can check:

1. If Network and Internet, Cellular does NOT show Verizon Wireless (LTE), turn on Wi-Fi.


2. Tap the signal strength icon. This should let you access the info online about the SIM and the device. I’ve removed so PII from the screenshot below, but the important pieces are there. Under Network Mode, insure that it shows LTE and APN is set to vzwinternet. If it isn’t, get Verizon to make a new NANO SIM. A partially activated SIM might show GSM as the Network Mode.



connection manager

3. If you tap the Network Settings box above, on a successfully activated and working connection, the Network Type may show as Global. This is OK.




Verizon employees don’t have much experience with this and you can print this article out so they have a reference. Don’t let them tell you they have to send your device IMEI and other info in to a special team to be added to a database of devices. It isn’t needed and won’t help.

I hope this is helpful. If you’ve used this to get an unlocked Surface 3 online, let me know on Twitter @barbbowman. Enjoy


Philips Hue has some awesome lights and devices for decorating your home with light and providing home automation. The original Philips Bridge enabled me to control lights via an iPhone app and a few third party iOS apps let me sync to music and movies. It was cool. Then Philips released Bridge 2.0, a HomeKit enabled device that added Siri voice control from iOS devices and the Apple Watch. I already had Insteon and Lutron HomeKit enabled bridges and products and went rushing around to buy the new bridge.

It sure was great to push a button on my Apple Watch and let Siri turn on some lights, especially from my car as I was pulling up to my front door. I’ve set up some scenes, defined by color and lights, so when I tell Siri to turn on TV time, I get red and blue Hue Bloom lighting turned on.

tv time bloom

I’ve got a daylight and blue light scene for my kitchen. (And I can even tell Siri to set the Kitchen to Pink if that is my current mood).



And I’ve got a bunch of color scheme scenes for the stairway going from the first floor to the second floor.



Siri can dim individual lights by percent and more. It’s pretty handy. And of course Siri turns on my individual Insteon powered and Lutron powered devices, scenes, rooms, zones and more. Between my iPhone and my Apple Watch, I can use Siri to control everything. (Note: Amazon’s Alexa voice control can turn my Insteon powered lights and some of my Hue devices, excluding Lightstrips for some reason, on and off.)

Except when it all stops working with Siri.  https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7275389  and Reddit and elsewhere all have posts from unhappy users.

While bridges from other vendors seem to work without glitches, Hue’s Bridge 2.0 suffers from some kind of bug where there are several conditions that will cause Siri and HomeKit to stop working (only for the Hue devices, the other devices continue to work fine). Resetting HomeKit in certain situations will also not fix the issue as the Hue App reports “Another user already paired the HomeKit enabled bridge. Please ask the user to share his / her home kit settings in order for you to start using Siri voice control“. There’s nothing you can do to fix this. Reset your bridge and it may work for a while, but one to four hours later, bang, stops working. Rinse and repeat. In fact, simply resetting HomeKit may trigger this issue. It’s a mess.

The scenarios that cause this may be related to owning more than one iOS device configured with the SAME iCloud ID.https://discussions.apple.com/message/29148317#29148317 And whether or not having bridges from multiple vendors is part of the recipe for failure is also unknown. I’ve heard of related issues with folks sharing their Home as well https://discussions.apple.com/message/29148317#29148317. Apparently the user you share with has to delete a “Primary Home” and then possibly can control a Shared Home. I haven’t tried myself.

I probably called support 8 times. I kept asking for a replacement bridge. I was turned down multiple times. I was told a fix was coming. Sometimes I was told it was Philips App fix and other times I was told it was a HomeKit/iOS fix. Escalation said that engineering could not reproduce the issues. After a few more calls a week ago, Philips agreed to replace my bridge.

I changed my two other iOS devices to a different iCloud ID and reset HomeKit on those devices. I left the iPhone as it was. I set up the new bridge (had to use the serial number/mac addresses of all my lights) and for a while the Hue App saw both the old and new bridge even though the old bridge was offline and reset. But Siri/HomeKit functionality returned and is still working 5 days later.


I wrote about how Microsoft broke Miracast for Surface Pro original users when Windows 8.1 was released http://digitalmediaphile.com/index.php/2013/10/26/how-to-make-miracast-work-on-surface-pro/ and surprise, surprise, they’ve done it again with TH2 Build 10586. The supplied driver for the Marvell Wireless is not Miracast enabled. I don’t know why, as the chip is the same as the Surface Pro 2.

Here’s an unsupported way to get Miracast to work on your SP original with 10586.

Go to http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=49042 and download Surface Pro 2\SurfacePro2_Win10_150818_0.zip. Open the archive and copy the WiFi folder from SurfacePro2_Win10_150818_0.zip\SurfacePro2_Win10_150818_0\Drivers\Network\WiFi to your desktop or other place where you can easily find it. Then follow these instructions:

  1. Type Device Manager in the Cortana/Search box and open it.
  2. Find Network adapters, expand it, right-click on Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller, and then select Update Driver Software.
  3. Select Browse my computer for driver software.
  4. Select Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer.
  5. Click Have Disk.
  6. Click Browse.
  7. Navigate to the Wifi folder (it has the INF file for the wifi driver), then click Open.

Go to the Action center, select Connect and your Miracast device should be discovered. Connect and enjoy!

mira sp1 working

Above shows a successful Miracast streaming session with my Surface Pro original happily connected to a Microsoft Display Adapter.


https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=38826 Surface Pro 3

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=49040 Surface 3

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=49039 Surface 3 LTE ATT

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=49037 Surface 3 LTE North America Carrier Unlocked

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=49041 Surface 3 LTE Outside of North America and Y!mobile Japan

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=49042 Surface Pro 2

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=49038 Surface Pro

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=49498 Surface Pro 4

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=49497 Surface Book

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