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.
I’m a geek and proud of it, so when my 26 year old canister vacuum’s motor seized up and died and ugly death, it was a choice of which “connected” vacuum to purchase and not a “should I” purchase decision. There were only two to consider, iRobot’s Roomba 980 and a Neato Botvac Connected Vacuum. While Neato’s vacuum was cheaper, iRobot has been in the business a long time, and I ultimately used that plus reviews and am the happy owner of a Roomba 980.
There’s no question that these Wi-Fi controllable robotic vacuums are expensive, but using my (admittedly skewed) justification math, if I value my time at $50 an hour (a low ball as I know my time is worth more than that) and compare to a Dyson, or an Electrolux, the extra $$ don’t seem very large. And I get back a couple of extra hours a week that I don’t have to spend dragging the old canister around my home. And if I didn’t mention it, I loathe vacuuming.
Roomba does an awesome job on my carpeted and linoleum floors, switching transparently from carpet mode to floor mode. And Roomba is actually quieter than my old canister.
Roomba 980 comes with a Home Base Docking Station and this amazing little guy finds his way back to the Home Base when a cleaning job is finished or when it needs to recharge in the middle of a cleaning job if the battery runs low. Once charged, Roomba just picks up where it left off. This vacuum comes with these two battery powered virtual lighthouses that work in two different modes that allow you to “mark” areas off limits. So I don’t have to worry about that tangled mess of cords and wires around my Living Room home theater setup.
While you can operate Roomba from the button controls on the top of the device itself, the real advantage is control from your smartphone. Only iOS and Android are supported (same story for the Neato Botvac), but I’ve become accustomed (sadly) to lack of Windows and Windows device support in the Connected Home arena. Fortunately, I have an iPhone.
And the real joy of owning a Roomba is remote control using the smartphone app.
The App is Everything
On a basic level, the app displays the battery information and all you have to do is tap Clean and let Roomba do its thing. However, you can tap your way down to more functionality that lets you view Care (what parts need cleaning), a History of cleaning jobs/cycles, Settings and even Help.
Cleaning the appliance takes maybe all of 5-10 minutes and the Care status screen lets you visually see what might need attention. While the bin needs to be emptied after each job and the HEPA filter banged against the inside of a trash can a few times after every job, other Care tasks can be done weekly or monthly, depending on usage. The app provides all the info needed to perform these tasks, including videos on “how to” do these things.
If you can’t tell that I’m impressed with this latest addition to my Connected Home.. I can assure you I am.
Here’s a trick if you are desperately trying to get your hands on a hotfix from Microsoft that requires you to contact support and are getting a run around. Do this at your own risk. Make sure you need the fix and have created a restore point if things go wrong. I won’t support you and Microsoft won’t support you.
You need to know the KB number of the hotfix you need. Find a hotfix (OK, I’ll do it for you) for a different item where the download is available without going through contacting support again. Like http://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/2955769
Click the Hotfix Download Available button.
After selecting that link, an URL will appear in the address bar like https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/hotfix/kbhotfix?kbnum=2955769&kbln=en-us
Copy the URL in the address bar and paste into Notepad.
Replace the KB 2955769 number with the one you are having difficulty getting. So that you have a link like https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/hotfix/kbhotfix?kbnum=XXXXXXXX&kbln=en-us where XXXXXXXX is the KB number you are having trouble getting.
Now you can get your hotfix.
Again, I won’t support you and Microsoft won’t support you, but maybe you can fix your problem without multiple calls to support and incompetent poorly trained support agents.
Mattel has angered a large segment of the Girl Geek world with a book with a decidedly sexist slant that portrays Barbie as needing help from boys to successfully complete a coding project. While Mattel has apologized and “pulled” the publication and has promised a better attitude going forward, the important concept that girls can be what they dream to be and should reach for the stars is what really matters. Women in tech have been successful for years. I’m not just talking about the Marissa Mayer’s of this world. There are thousand’s (and hopefully tens of thousands) of us who have built successful tech careers, many of them, like myself, going back 20 or 30 years.
There’s been lots of activity on Barbie’s Facebook page where posts are being deleted by Barbie’s social media staff (see Posts to Page) and some still are up at https://www.facebook.com/BarbieNAD/posts/362944293876701
One of my peers has started a #realgirlgeek campaign to highlight the fact that women and girls CAN be anything they want to be, including computer programmers and IT professionals.
The White House also has recently stepped up a campaign to highlight and help and equalize the pay gap in ALL professions.
Let’s encourage our girls to pursue and excel in technical careers.
Oh yeah, for what it’s worth, here’s my remix of the horrendous Barbie, I can be a Computer Engineer.