Browse Tag: cell phones

Customizing Your Smart Phone – Part 1

Customizing your smart phone, when it comes to HTC hardware, requires three major steps. I’ll go over all three briefly, then elaborate more for those who’d like to get on board. Something like a disclaimer – I will deliberately simplify things and try NOT to use special lingo – exactly for the purpose of explaining things as simple as possible. Maybe even simpler.

Now, when talking about customizing your phone, I don’t mean installing some new shiny app or changing couple of colors and fonts here and there. I am talking about installing an improved OS, upgrading software that powers your cell phone radio and GPS, drastically changing the way you use that phone.

In case you already scared – well, to a certain point you should be. It’s a bit convoluted procedure, requiring you if not reading through dozens and dozens of pages of nerd talk at least being able to follow instructions. Outlined in nerd talk. But we’ll get there later.

Since most of the world employs various derivatives of GSM networks (read: phones with SIM cards), that’s what we will be looking at. After all, you would enjoy being able to take your smart phone on your next trip to Europe, wouldn’t you?

Step 1: Unlocking your smart phone. Smart phones are smart, they are a miniature computers with their operating systems and all. So in order for you to be able to install that new operating system you will need to unlock your phone. SIM unlock (as in – being able to use other company’s SIM card in your phone) is a minor benefit of the first step. By unlocking your phone you become the only real owner of your hardware. Unlike the following two steps, this step is required and will only need to be performed once.

Step 2: Upgrading software for the radio in your cell phone. While optional, this is the step that would give you the most benefit. All else aside, this is the real reason anyone would really NEED to upgrade their phone. As an example – my AT&T Tilt, bought just a little over a year ago, shipped with radio software four generations behind current! Of course AT&T, being busy with those iPhones and all, forgot to issue a single update to that software. However, after upgrading a software to the latest available, I was able to almost eliminate dropped calls in quite a few spots and improved overall quality of calls. Less frustration and happier clients are extra.

Step 3: Upgrading OS and software on your phone. As does any computer from any big-name manufacturer, cell phones arrive with loads of bloatware. Stuff you don’t really need or use. However, unlike computers, cell phones are a bit different in nature, and this software is put into permanent memory of the cell phone, so you just can’t uninstall it! So instead of being occupied with something useful, like a modern browser, nice organizer or an elaborate mind-mapping software, the cell phone memory is occupied with useless junk that slows everything down.

That being said, here’s a real tangible business benefit for any business owner – upgrade your smart phone, keep more money in your business, instead of investing them into yet another piece of hardware that “almost does it right, but not really“. Protect the nature. Reuse. Rethink. After all, it’s a smart phone, why not being smart about how to use it?

5 Reasons NOT To Own A Smartphone

5 reasons not to own a smartphone - old phone pictureTo keep a balanced approach along with the previous article here’s five reasons why you shouldn’t own a smartphone.

1. Too complicated, wasting too much time

A lot of people are avoiding smart phones (and other complicated pieces of technology) simply because they’re afraid they will not be able to figure them out. They are certainly right, these phones are complicated, requiring time and patience to understand and get used to the process. This could be time consuming and some people just aren’t comfortable with this.

2. You look too busy when typing away, people don’t think you’re paying attention

We’re all part of our social environment. If you spend most of your time looking at your Blackberry than you are making an eye contact, people would stop any kind of contacts with you at all. Knowing that some avoid using smartphones to prevent loosing other people’s attention.

3. You prefer your smartphone to real world face-to-face contact

This is somewhat similar with the previous reason, but in fact – just the opposite. Why would you waste time on sending e-mails back and forth if you could just meet for 15 minutes and solve all the issues. In fact, from my own experience, a 30 minute meeting can resolve enough issues to save you about 6 – 8 hours of writing e-mails.

5 reasons not to own a smartphone - old phone picture4. Battery life makes you go crazy

Smartphones are hungry beasts. If you used to recharging your phone once a week (light use) or once every three-four days (heavy use) – forget it. Almost every smartphone even with moderate use requires recharging every night. It could hold its juice for over 24 hours, of course, but would you want to be stuck in the boring meeting next day and don’t have enough power to check your e-mail while you’re at it?

5. Your data gets lost with your phone

That’s the most dreaded thing of all. We tend to sidestep required security locks in the names of efficiency and easiness of use. Just imagine if all the data you have on your phone is in some dirty sticky hands. To avoid that altogether is alone a good reason not to have a smart phone at all.

Crowdsourcing In Overloading Cell Phone Providers

The inauguration of president-elect Barack Obama, aside from logistical issues, will create a communication nightmare. The anticipated 3 to 4 million people are expected to overload whatever networks Verizon and Spring might have available in Washington, D.C.

The problem with the cell phone companies is not that they can’t supply the pipe. I’m pretty sure they can. Even more so, I am pretty sure they will not only supply the pipe, they will be also ones reaping all the rewards (even undeserved ones). And I don’t even have problem with that.

The problem I have with cell phone companies is that the pipe is “just good enough”. There’s not much of an extra capacity, and too quick roll-out of an iPhone showed just that for AT&T. I am quite sure Verizon isn’t going an extra mile just to beat the competition in the peak demand game. So their pipes are also “just good enough”.

What I would like to see in a year or two is the constant 3G sign on my phone. Anywhere. Even in tunnels or just 50 miles outside of NYC. I want to see 3G everywhere in Brooklyn too, even on the subway as I go there. I also want this 3G to be real solid connection, not some flickering on-the-verge-of-breaking-up connection. One way or another I’ve seen Verizon and AT&T guilty of all of the above. This is not to start a holy war “Verizon vs. AT&T”, it’s just that cell phone providers have formed de-facto cartel with crappy phones, nonsense pricing models (5GB limit for cell phone broadband with $250 cell phone modem card? Puh-leese!) and questionable service quality.

Those of you who are going to inauguration – slip a note into Obama’s pocket: we need reasonable cell broadband structure. Now!