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Comment Re: where's the 'feature' and "wifi only" data pla (Score 1) 48

T-Mobile hasn't had service contracts for years. T-Mobile also has a prepaid plan (no credit check) with unlimited domestic talk and text for, hey look at that! $25 + tax / 30 days. Perfect for your feature phone. You'll need your account number and password/pin to switch your service to T-Mobile.

Comment I've used the Hearphones - very impressed (Score 5, Interesting) 65

I was at Bose Headquarters the other day trying these out - the Hearphones are actually quite amazing.

Physically they're a black torc that fits loosely about two thirds around the neck. Attached a bit back from the front opening are two tethered earbuds equipped with Bose's really good tips, which come in three sizes. On the right hand tether is a small remote. On the outside of the earbuds are subtle bronze colored microphones.

Aside from being slightly smaller then other torc-style headphones they're not immediately different. They have their control on a remote, and of course the microphones on the earbuds, but nothing screams out also-for-hearing.

Putting them on in 360 mode was like listening to a live mic through, well, very good headphones. However using the app (we were using iPods) it was easy to control the base and treble to focus on what we were listening for - voices.

It was when the Hearphones were switched into directly-in-front mode they got exciting. In a room full of simulated loud coffee shop noise, and a dozen other demo-ees having conversations with their Bose-partners, it all faded away except for whomever I was facing.

Face this way and I could follow this conversation, face that and the other table came in clearly. For years I've had to position myself strategically in bars, restaurants, clubs and conferences - watching folks to ensure I'm following what they're saying. Suddenly that wasn't a concern.

I don't need hearing aids, and while I've spent some amount of time in loud clubs I've not particularly abused my ears. However coming on 50 years my ears aren't particularly reliable in noisy environments and now, suddenly, everything extraneous was muffled.

Sometimes an advanced technology really is like magic (and a really good demo.)

There's also a everything-in-front-of-you mode (180 degrees vs 360 degrees and about 35 degrees for those keeping track.) That would be for sitting at a table of people facing multiple correspondents.

Of course there's an app; iOS and Android. They apologized several times no Windows Mobile version (nobody looked concerned.) However the remote is intuitively designed and did everything necessary so no needing to be rudely screen-peering in the middle of a conversation. Volume up/down, treble/base, and switching between customizable modes.

The other big demo topic was being able to filter a TV or movie theater. Focus on the center speaker, crank the treble, and suddenly dialog popped - no more scrubbing back for what-just-got-said?

That they're also conventional Bluetooth headphones, with the noise-cancelling Dr. Bose invented, was taken for granted.

So, did I buy them?

Not yet. Their price is reasonable for being top-of-the-line noise cancelling Bluetooth headphones + the Hearphone technology but, a bit rich for me. Right now. However after another chaotic holiday party, a conversation where I mishear something important, or a conference where I'm straining to make out the content - yeah, probably.

Oh and if you're condemned to an "open office" cattle pen oh hella yeah. Selective noise cancelling with a music alternative would almost make those hellholes bearable.

Comment Interesting they're shutting down devices and not (Score 2) 193

First off this no-charge strategy is not confirmed.

Second what Samsung has been doing til now was installing nag screens and limiting battery charging to sixty percent. I'd be surprised if the US is the first country where they roll out no-charging. All their other methods were first launched in smaller markets.

Thirdly it is interesting they're supposedly software shutting-down the handsets and not simply denying them service. It'd be trivial to place every Note 7 on the blacklist maintained by US carriers for stolen devices.

Of course denying service means the devices are unreachable, so this might be the step before that, to ensure they're not kept around as wifi devices or fancy alarm clocks. Blocking the battery means they're effectively defanged - no charge means no chance of fire.

In my part of the world I haven't seen a Note 7 in weeks. I expect when a clerk points out a Note 7 is keeping a known fire hazard next to their genitals, or in their purse-of-important-stuff, or holding it to their face is asking for trouble, or charging it in their bedroom while sleeping is really scary, and insurance will no longer cover it's damages, the sane ones figure it's time to trade-in.

Comment Without their needed displays Pebble was doomed (Score 5, Interesting) 193

Pebble had a single source supplier for their displays.

That source is in financial trouble and unable to produce the displays Pebble depends on.

Therefore Pebble has no products to sell and thus no cash flow.

Therefore Pebble has had to wind down operations and pay off creditors.

Pebble's IP has some value to Fitbit and hiring a few of Pebble's suddenly-available engineers is a no-brainer but Fitbit has no interest in the Pebble company or it's products.

The lesson is to be very leery of DEPENDING on a single source supplier. Pebble was a healthy going concern until they could no longer get their needed displays. Then it went off the rails.

Comment There's a history between the two (Score 5, Interesting) 46

T-Mobile is unusual in the US that they've never used Huawei in their backend.

They also no longer sell Huawei devices to their customers.

The latter is likely tied to their accusations of industrial espionage and theft by Huawei employees: Possibly paywallled NYT article.

So there's no love lost between the two companies.

Comment Nobody has a hundred friends? (Score 4, Insightful) 136

I do. I'm nearly 50 years old, have lived in several places, have worked at a number of jobs over the years, had multiple romantic relationships in my life. I've made friends every year, in all of those places, through many diverse ways. Are all of the folks I've friended currently on my short list? No. But that list of a dozen close friends has evolved over time with new ones entering and others dropping off as we move about, go through various stages of life, some have died, etc. But they have my phone number. I have theirs. I may also have their closest friends or family members phone numbers. That adds up to well over a hundred people. And while I'm social I'm nobody compared to some of the butterflies I know. More than two people for every year of life? Those gregarious folks get, and use, that many numbers in a night on the town. No, for most of us non-hermetic folks I'd guess a hundred friends or more is entirely unsurprising.

Comment Coverage continuously improves (Score 2) 74

T-Mobile's coverage has changed dramatically in the past year. Hit their website for a current map of your area. Check out the hexagons - that is where a handset of theirs has recently confirmed the mathematical theoretical coverage map. Adjust for your indoor status (are your walls straw, wood, or brick?) Note that non-T-Mobile branded handsets likely don't have support for 700Mhz/Band 12/Extended LTE using VOLTE turned on - and that can make a big difference.

Comment It's really just about better reception (Score 1) 21

Malls suck. So do big office buildings. Also stadiums. As do any sort of "complex". At least they suck for cellular reception. Layer upon layer of steel flooring with few if any windows on the outside; dense core structures creating yet more RF shadows and reflections. All being served by exterior antennas at oblique angles.

Wifi can only augment service. It's too short range, too inefficient, and too balkanized. Indoors the access points are all stepping on top of each other and while Passport 2.0 will improve authentication it does nothing for handoffs and the other issues.

Indoor LTE promises to be spectrally efficient, relatively easy to deploy, and cost effective (each access point covers enough area/devices to be worth the cost/effort.) They're been widely seen as the solution for local cellular 'infill' - now they're going indoors.

Remember cell towers typically radiate downward at an angle, in an umbrella pattern. Therefore a locally dense area requires three or more millionish-US$-each towers around it. Or a thousand plus wifi access points, every 20m-50m, all requiring backhaul. Or a dozen ~US$50,000 indoor microsites offering LTE. They start to look very, very, attractive.

As to Wifi being removed from handsets, that is tremendously unlikely. Offloading heavy domestic data usage to another medium is still preferable. Corporate customers would flat out refuse any such handsets. And consumers would be rightfully incensed. Nobody (well, Verizon might try merely on their maximum-evil premise) would go for that.

Comment Kindle or features - pick one (Score 4, Informative) 148

The Kindle ebooks doesn't do what you're asking for. So either drop the Kindle ebook requirement or abandon those interactive features. My recommended alternative would be a small website. If the hardware has a basic web browser with JavaScript support what you want is trivially doable. FWIW a TiddlyWiki would be very appropriate; self-contained, portable, your content can be easily adapted to it, and extensible for your needs.

Comment Here, there, and everywhere (Score 2) 55

When Nokia bought Navteq they bought one of two global mapping companies, for about US$ 7.5 billion. For that they got, almost immediately, free maps for every Nokia handset. Around the planet. Also data sets for some industry leading augmented reality. Those services were, and are, huge. They sold lots of handsets and led the way to lots of Microsoft collaboration (Windows Phone et al comes with Nokia Here built-in.) That eventually led to Microsoft buying the phone unit outright. Did Nokia lose money selling Here off? Maybe, maybe not. They sold lots of handsets around the world featuring Here. That augmented reality wowed lots of folks and sold some more, plus positioned Nokia products as forward looking. They sold some online mapping to websites, though that was probably not a big revenue stream. They eventually sold the failing phone unit (and kept Here!) So they got a lot of milage out of Here, maybe US$5 billion. Going forward, I hope the new owners keep the consumer editions of Here. I'm off to Glacier Nat'l Park next week, and have Here loaded on all my handsets. The iPhone has just the states I regularly visit preloaded. One of my Android handsets has all of North & Central Americas preloaded, for fast travel convenience. I'm used to sering legions of befuddled tourists wandering around national park attractions confused their smartphone maps (Google Maps & Apple Maps, both largely dependant on streaming maps) aren't working. I used to bring a Windows phone along explicitly for those situations, now I just load Here. Oh, and why not carry a dedicated GPS unit? They don't come with cameras, translators, phones, email, etc. Their maps? Likely sourced from, yes, Here.

Comment Wrong number (Score 4, Interesting) 158

Many years ago a buddy got some new phone lines. One had just been a reservation number for an extremely large restaurant. After a few days of folks trying to make reservations through him he called the restaurant and offered them the number back if they'd pay the transfer fees. They declined. So he started taking reservations. "Four for the Ponderosa Room at 7pm? Under 'Caruthers'? Not a problem; please check in with the Hostess when you arrive." After a week of this he called the restaurant back, and offered them their reservation number back. For just the fees? Oh no, assholes, now it's gonna cost something! He got some nominal amount, just 'cause he was pissed about his time & trouble.

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