cellular technology

Blackberry Storm From Verizon

Blackberry Storm and TyTN II - Small Business Blog Last few weeks I was diving into a few gadgets I was missing on before. The place where I sit throughout the day has the worst possible reception spot for AT&T network – my AT&T Tilt (TyTN II) drops to GPRS in the middle of downtown Manhattan. A dozen steps towards any window improves the situation, but it’s not always possible. I asked people around, but since mostly they’re wielding iPhones with bad enough reception already, there was no way of knowing what would work. Testing with regular phones as well as Samsung Blackjack showed that the problem persists to the spot, rather than device (especially since I had flashed an updated version of radio). Recalling my previously very much decent experience with Verizon, I went to the closest store and bought Blackberry Storm.

Now, usually I would go for Windows Mobile device, but I wanted to explore a bit into realms of other mobile OSes. I was mostly interested in Blackberry, since it has, by far, one of the biggest markets. Besides, it just look different from anything RIM had produced before.

My overall impression is mostly positive. The phone is a tad smaller, significantly thinner and definitely weights a lot less than TyTN II. Storm has a 3.5mm headphones jack – something that’s been missing from a lot of HTC devices. I also liked the screen and the idea behind the different approach to touch (honestly, I love it). The cellular service was a lot better in my spot and I was almost sold to keep the phone. Although, after couple of weeks of light use I figured a few things that prevented me from staying with the phone – at least for now.


Land Line Is Doomed!

Last night I’ve got mail. One of the letters was from a collection agency – they wanted to collect $21.30 on behalf of Verizon phone company. Turns out – I owe these monies to Verizon as a “final bill” – some last minute money extortion policy that they enforce. Apparently, someone at the billing department forgot to send me that one “final bill” in February, when I switched off my land line.

So what’s a poor man to do? I called Verizon. Their local phone number is utilizing the latest and greatest in voice recognition technology. Whenever you call that local number an annoying female voice comes up and starts asking a zillion of questions. Is this the number you’re calling about? Am I right that this isn’t the number? What is the number you’re calling about? Is this the number you’ve said you’re calling about? What is the matter of the call? And so on and so forth…

First problem is that you have to answer every single question in loud clear voice. In almost any environment, except your sound-proof basement there will be a background noise. Sometimes the noise is so significant that system doesn’t recognize a word from what you’re saying. Sometimes you are in a public area or at the office, or in lunch room. Oh, and SPEAKING OUT LOUD YOUR ACCOUNT NUMBER, LAST 4 NUMBERS OF YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY AND FULL CREDIT CARD NUMBER WITH EXPIRATION DATE IS A WRONG AND STUPID IDEA! Hello, do you hear me now?!

I had to hang up and try again. After several attempts I got through to the live person and was told that “there is no person here, at Verizon, who would take your payment over the phone“. Everything has to be done via automated system that I already have been through. The evil, vicious circle was now complete.

My guess is that somehow I will be able to figure out how to get those money to Verizon. Worse case scenario – I’ll go through the collection agency that sent me the bill. What I see is that Verizon, apparently, cutting every possible cost on land line phone business. Obviously, billing department has to have much more thorough training than people who answer the phones first. I expect the service fully fold to total uselessness in about a year or so. Given the rate with which people turn down landlines in preference of IP-based phones and cell phones, I really think landlines would be few and scattered. The tech support would be outsourced to India where poorly trained and badly English-speaking low-wage people will make you want to go back to automated voice-recognition system. Land line is doomed!


It’s The End Of The (Telephone) Line

The End Of The Telephone Line - Small Business, Marketing and Web Design Blog Yesterday I canceled two last services that were reminding me of the era of old computers, modems, connection problems and other geeky fun that I was having. The Plain-Old Telephone Service (POTS) is not functioning in my Brooklyn apartment anymore, cell phone is more then enough.

Alternatively, I can always use Skype and Gizmo – call quality is almost the same, if not better. Since I signed up with OptimunOnline’s Boost service I get a bit better speed, open ports 25 and 80 (for e-mail and HTTP services). Aside from annoying calls at 8 in the Saturday morning from some collection agency who’s hunting people who used to own my phone number a year ago the cost of having an old-style phone line is just the same as a decent DSL line. Latter, however, is capable of much more then just voice transmission.

The whole process took me less then 7 minutes. This is including dragging through automatic menu and paying the balance online. Verizon really does a good service at canceling a service, unlike some other companies who really resist your quitting, like Netfirms or Earthlink.