Let me first state that I’m getting an iPhone 7. I’m going to buy it from Apple. My prior “contract” which I signed when I traded an iPhone 5 for an iPhone 6 expired when I paid this month’s bill and I am off contract.
It isn’t that I plan to switch carriers, as Verizon is the only real choice where I’m located. AT&T doesn’t even give one bar inside my home. I want the freedom to decide my own destiny so to speak. Verizon, on the other hand, seems to be using training that requires their store agents to use a sledgehammer approach when customers ask about their options and want to make changes.
I can’t remember ever having such a hard time getting what I wanted and getting a sales person to stop hammering me with details of something I indicated up front I had no interest in. (And getting my intelligence questioned to boot.)
On Thursday, I went to one of the corporate Verizon Stores to discuss what plans were available. I brought a print out with me so that it was crystal clear what I was interested in:
After waiting for a store rep (busy, longish wait, others were there with the same questions) on Thursday, a rep came over and asked what I wanted. I said, “ I’m going to be buying an iPhone 7 from Apple, not Verizon. I’m checking to see if there are any hidden charges if I sign up for the “new Verizon Plan” and keep my tablet (already activated) on it and get the iPhone 7 for the Apple Store at the Mall and activate it there and I don’t want a contract with Verizon”. He checked my account and confirmed I was “off contract’’” and launched into a sales pitch for trading my phone (iPhone 6) and getting a free iPhone 7. I said (nicely) “I already told you I wasn’t interested in this trade up two year contract. I want to talk about any hidden charges on the New Verizon Plan”.
The rep checks some stuff on his tablet and then says “You can buy the iPhone 7 from us on a device plan for $27.04 a month. It’s not the same as the old contract”. I stood up and said “You aren’t listening to me. I’m not buying a phone from Verizon”. He then decides to tell me “You can trade in your iPhone 6 for a $200 credit that you can apply to accessories”. I tell him that this is just another ‘shell’ for a 24 month contract. He confirms this is true. I want to smack this guy upside the head. I restrain myself. I decide to leave the store and come back the next day.
So yesterday (Friday), I return the the Verizon store and a different rep waits on me. I still have my piece of paper (the above print out) and I tell her I don’t want to buy an iPhone 7 from VZW, lease one, trade in anything and all I want to do is switch to the new Verizon Plan with MY CURRENT DEVICES, as I am off contract and eligible. She launches into a sales speech about how I can trade in my iPhone 6. I tell her bluntly to STFU as I already stated I was not interested. Then she starts with the device payment plan. I ask her if she has actually listened to what I told her. (Apparently not.)
I stand my ground, I tell her I want to switch to the new Verizon Plan. She taps some stuff into her tablet and tells me she can make it effective with my next billing period. She gives me figures. I tell her I’m off contract and it would save me $35 to switch today. She then tells me that THAT would involved a pro-rated bill and that I would have trouble understanding it. I stand up again, and restrain from physical violence and tell her that it is uncalled for to question anyone’s intelligence or math skills and to make the switch or get a manager over that will do it. She tries one more time to sign me up for device payment or a contract. She asks me why I won’t take a contract or buy a phone from VZW or select device payment. And I tell her it is none of her business.
She finally sets up the plan I want and pushes the buttons to make it happen. She tells me she is making a note in my account that I probably will be complaining about a pro-rated bill that I don’t understand. Unbelievable. Exhausting.
Just yesterday I was away from home and thinking I needed to add a few things to my Alexa powered shopping list and wishing there was an easy way to do this without typing into the Alexa App on my iPhone or using a web browser on my tablet. And I’ve often cursed out Siri for not turning on lights when I’ve summoned her to action this from a distance using HomeKit via my Apple TV.
Today I discovered Lexi –a $5 iOS app that changed everything. Press and hold the button, watch the animation, add items to my shopping list, turn lights on or off. This is Alexa “on the road”, giving me control of my Connected Home when I’m miles away from home.
If you are on the fence about buying an Amazon Echo, you can use this App to try out many of the features of Alexa, as this app will handle shopping lists, queries and many of the Alexa Skills. (But not Amazon Music). And I truly think every home should be Alexa powered.
The open Alexa ecosystem (and it really is an ecosystem) makes the Amazon Echo a really compelling Smart Home controller and virtual assistant. I’m continually amazed and pleased by how developers, like the Lexi team, are extending the Alexa experience and making my life so easy (and fun).
Woo. Here’s a nice and long overdue surprise. Verizon has quietly rolled out the feature called HD Calling and the iPhone 6 is one of the devices capable of using this feature. Finally.
Go to settings, Cellular, and drill down. Check off Voice & Data (Data Only is probably checked).
You’ll see a spinning cursor as it looks like turning it on here automatically provisions this feature in your Verizon account. Once the cursor stops:
Just checked my account online and saw:
So if you’re using LTE, you now should have the same dual capabilities carriers like AT&T have had for years. The voice quality is like being in the same room. And I can browse the web at the same time.
The included HTML Gallery template in Lightroom 5 is too simplistic for my tastes and I started looking around for web gallery plugins. I viewed a lot of demos and used some trials where available. The one that seemed the most useful to me was Turning Gates TTG CE3 Gallery plugin but I couldn’t find a trial, so I spent a few hours looking at demos. Based on what I saw, the $25 price seemed like a bargain.
The initial learning curve on this plugin took a couple of hours, and I certainly haven’t explored or used all the features, but once I had figured out what I wanted and started saving user templates, actually building the site (V1, usuable but not the final) from already saved collections was easy and fast. And it was far better in V1 form than the one created in Adobe Muse, so it is now online. It’s hosted on a Microsoft IIS Sharepoint public facing server, so while there are some neat looking auto indexing features, they aren’t available to me since they rely on PHP.
The site now works beautifully with touch enabled computers and devices. The galleries are swipable. Even on a non touch computer, you can use a mouse to drag swipe through each gallery (or use the nav arrows). Included in the functionality is a mobile version.
When entering the site with my iPhone, a fast loading screen (left, below) is displayed. Selecting the left icon displays the menu (right, below). Selecting the icon on the right displays the page, like the two above.
Once a specific Gallery is selected (such as Alive) you can view either portrait or landscape and can swipe through the current gallery. The “X” returns to the previous screen.
I’m thrilled with this Lightroom plugin and the first version of my new personal site. And it can only get better as I work on V.next.
My Connected Home now includes an iCreation i700/i700e Cordless with Link to Cell System and I couldn’t be happier!
When I realized my old Uniden 5.8GHz cordless phone system was slowly dying (and the proprietary, even generic replacement batteries for it were $16 each) I started investigating what was going on within the world of cordless phone systems. It became clear to me that what I really needed (or wanted) was a way to use my cell phone from all the extensions in my three-story townhouse style condo as well as my landline. Cordless telephone systems have evolved and changed greatly since I bought my Uniden system around 8 years ago. It was time to move to DECT.
I did a lot of online research. The major players like Panasonic, Vtech, AT&T, etc. all seemed to have DECT systems that supported cell phones using some kind of link to cell. The nomenclature for this feature varies from vendor to vendor.
Reading through the various reviews on multiple websites and checking some of the forums I realize that some people were having issues linking their cell phones using the systems that were there. Since I have an iPhone, I specifically looked for reviews and forums that mentioned iPhone. What I really wanted to do was be able to link my iPhone to a new cordless system and be able to use the contacts already stored on my iPhone for an address book on the cordless system. Again I spent a lot of time looking and reading and finally decided on the iCreation i700 cordless DECT system. While there weren’t many reviews at all about this phone, the few I found were extremely positive. One of the things that I found particularly reassuring was that this particular system carried the made for iPhone logo designation.
I also noticed was that the Sharper Image was selling this particular system (although at an obscenely higher price than anyone else). Usually, if Sharper Image carries a gadget, that gadget works as advertised (in my experience anyway). This is not an inexpensive system and it’s probably 80% higher in cost than the newest top of the line cordless DECT systems with comparable features from folks like Panasonic etc. that support this link to cell phone technology. The i700 is also not in abundant supply throughout the United States. The official US distributor/vendor appears to be clearsounds.com but I found several companies selling the system at a much lower price and placed my order through Amazon. This is the first time that I purchased an electronic gadget without actually trying it out in the store or seeing it in a friend home.
The i700 proved to be nearly everything I wanted and expected. It does not have a built in answering system for landline phones, but that was not on my list of requirements, since my phone service through Comcast provides cloud based voice messages, etc. And if I decide to give up my landline (a definite possibility at some point) this is also not an issue. It supports up to 5 extension handsets. I had 6 with my old Uniden system, but it was probably overkill to have a phone in the bathroom.
The system supports pairing two different iPhones (well, I only have one and pairing it with the i700 was easy) and in addition to a local contacts/phone list that you can manually create, supports downloading contact from your iPhone via Bluetooth.
This worked exactly as advertised (and was incentive to clean up and delete/edit a ton of contacts that were gathering dust). These appear on all registered handsets. Registering additional handsets is a breeze. When you create a list of local contacts, it needs to be done on each handset, fortunately a task that only needs to be done once to get started (and adding anything new to each handset as time goes on). My old Uniden system had a feature to copy the phonebook to other registered handsets, which would have been easier, but this is one of the few negatives for me.
The handsets allow me to take or place calls from either my landline or my cellular line. There are logs for missed/answer calls, etc. and visual indicators when you miss a call or have a message waiting (landline) if your service supports this. I found the menus very intuitive and easy to navigate. The buttons are nice and large, and oh my, the call quality clarity is superb. I use the speakerphone quite a bit and the sound was crisp and clear. When you pick up the phone at night in a dark room, the lit buttons and display are incredibly readable.
Am I concerned about the new iPhone 5 connector and the old connector style charging dock in the base unit? Nope. I wrote the manufacturer who replied within a few hours that they are producing a cradle adapter (but that I would need to purchase the 30 pin to Lightning adapter from Apple) and that they would arrange for the US distributor to send me one next month. They even sent an image showing what it would look like. If you have ever written a Consumer Electronics manufacturer blindly without having a pre-existing contact person, you know that this is not normal behavior. I’ve had several emails back and forth. I like these guys and I like their product.
Am I concerned about having something OTHER than an iPhone down the road? Nope. I suspect that I would be able to pair any phone which support Bluetooth technology (but would not be able to download the phones contact list).
Anyway, I’m happy with my system, and that’s what counts for me.