Day: April 2, 2005

  • Kicking that Windows Habit

    I realized this afternoon that it’s been a week and a half since I booted Windows at home or on my Laptop. My main desktop machine at home runs Debian testing. I was still tied to Windows on my laptop until last Tuesday when I managed to get NDISWrapper working. I’m running Ubuntu Hoary on the laptop and have been for a month or two. Warty didn’t want to play nice with the laptop hardware, and the bleeding edge is the place to be anyway. The Hoary version of NDISWrapper doesn’t work with the latest kernels, so I grabbed the most recent release from sourceforge and it worked like a champ. I’m not completely sorted out, as connecting to open APs and WEP APs work great but I can’t connect to my WRT54G with WPA. It’s not that big a deal though. I just plug in to an ethernet cable at my desk.

    I managed to get NDISWrapper going just before PyCon and haven’t looked back at Windows since. Hoary handles speedstepping great, and I’ve fallen in love with bleeding edge Gnome, The Ubuntu Way, and Mono apps like F-Spot and Tomboy.

    I’m not completely free from Windows though. I use it quite a bit at work. I try my best to balance it out with my laptop on the right side of my desk connected to the wireless network. I haven’t run in to anything in Photoshop that hasn’t been possible with The Gimp, but I’ve only needed to do simple stuff in it so far. I should really look at how it handles slicing and PSD files with lots of layers.

    I have run in to a bit of a problem with hard drive space though. My now-primary Ubutnu partition is only 5 gigs, and I’ve managed to all but fill it. My Windows partition, gathering mothballs, is a heafty 30 gigs. I really need to boot up the partition, back my stuff up to DVD, and give Ubuntu the space it deserves. I’ll probably keep a small Windows partition handy though, you never know when it might be required.

  • New Phone (Sony Ericsson T237), Leaving T-Mobile

    I ordered a new phone today, a GoPhone from Cingular. It’s a Sony Ericsson T237. It cost me thirty bucks.

    You might wonder what the heck a guy like me is doing with a cheap little pay as you go phone. The short answer is that it’s part of the master plan. The long answer follows.

    You see, my wife’s contract with T-Mobile is up in late May. Mine isn’t up again until October, but we’ve decided to take the early termination fee on one but not both accounts. I love T-Mobile but the only data plan that you can actually use with anything other than WAP is $20 a month. That’s just more than I’m willing to pay for (slow) GPRS. I really do love T-Mobile. They’ve been great to me, their customer support rocks, their in-store employees actually care and try to help. I just really need data.

    On a side note, I’m really unhappy with the recent switch in T-Mobile’s customer support phone setup. They used to have a nice standard menu driven system that let me get the information I needed quickly and easy. Account information, minutes remaining, and other basic stuff was available from the menu. If I had a question that required a human, I chose the right menu option and had a kind and helpful customer support rep right away.

    Now when I dial customer service (*611) I get confronted by an IVR that thinks she’s smarter than me. She probably is, but that’s not the point. After a short greeting she prompted me to ask her a question about anything.

    “I would like to speak to a human please.”
    “I’m sorry.”
    “I would like to speak to a human please.”
    “I’m sorry. Try asking me a question like ‘How many minutes do I have left?’ or ‘When is my bill due?’”
    “I would like to speak to a human please.”
    “I’m sorry.”

    The IVR then listed about 5 or 6 things that I could ask for that sound suspiciously like the old “press 1 for…” list.

    “customer support”
    “Would you like to speak to a customer support representitive?”
    “I’m sorry. Did you want to speak to a customer support representitive?”
    “One moment.”

    I managed to supress the urge to throw my phone across the room and was actually calm by the time the customer support rep answered. She was kind and helpful as always, and as I inquired about the contract status of the two lines on the family plan, she said that she would be sorry to see us go but understood if we had to. I thanked her very much, told her that she was helpful as always, and registered my complaint with the IVR bouncer at the front door.

    Where was I? Oh right. The master plan. So late May, early June, the plan is to switch both phones over to Cingular. They’re really my only option. I’m a GSM guy, so Sprint-Nextel and Verizion are out. Since I’m leaving T-Mobile, that leaves Cingular. I’m hoping that the Nokia 6682 makes an appearance at Cingular during the 2nd quarter of 2005 as predicted. It looks like the 6680 is poised to hit Europe in April as promised, so I have no reason to doubt that the 6682 isn’t on track for some in May or June. If the 6682 is delayed, I can still get a good price on a 7610 on contract, and honestly if the 7610 is my fallback, things aren’t that bad.

    If we’re planning on making the jump pretty soon, it’d be nice to have a backup phone that speaks 850Mhz. I’ve got a ton of GSM phones, but they’re mostly 900/1800/1900. While these will probably work most of the time on Cingular, it’d be nice to have a “native” 850 phone as a backup. It’s also a good chance to audition the signal levels in our apartment and other places we usually hang out. I have to stand near a window if I want to carry on a conversation on T-Mobile, but I think that Cingular has better reception here.

    Plus, with GoPhone, I can have data again. I can do things like use WirelessIRC or test network-enabled Python apps. It’ll be pretty cool.

    To summarize: I’m leaving T-Mobile for Cingular some time in the next few months. I don’t want to leave, but T-Mobile just doesn’t offer me a data plan that I can live with. Their cheap plans don’t let you deviate from WAPland, and their unlimited plan is just too much for GPRS. I’m going to miss them though. They rock and I can’t say a bad thing about them (data aside). I’m wary of Cingular, since they lead the pack on customer complaints. I’m willing to give them a shot though if it means I can have EDGE and get a decent deal on a new phone on contract.