Monday, August 12, 2013

I miss record stores

My son and I went to the local mall yesterday where a new FYE store had opened. While the selection is not great, it was just good enough that I noticed that one of my favorite bands, "Los Amigos Invisibles" had a new album. Actually, they have had 4 albums since I last paid attention.

While the internet is a great resource for finding music, being in a record store provides a much better experience for serendipity. I really miss record stores. I used to stop at the old Record Exchange at least twice per week. I loved their $1 bin. You can take a chance on a $1 CD like you would never would for a $15 CD. Some I bought because I liked the cover.

I need to make the effort to go down to Schoolkids records once/week and buy something there at least once/month, or pretty soon it won't be there.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Switching from AT&T to T-Mobile

I recently switched my phone service from AT&T to T-Mobile. I did not have any particular problems with their service. Other than the typical crazy business practices that only mobile phone providers can get away with. I have 3 iPhone 4 devices on my account, and two of them are out of contract. Since T-Mobile has separated the phone subsidy from the service costs, I was able to reduce my phone bill from $190 to $90. This did involve paying the Early Termination Fee for one of the iPhones, which was $145. This was a no brainer as I can make back the savings in under 2 months.

I investigated the differences in coverage, and AT&T's 3G coverage is slightly better than T-Mobile's. Interestingly, T-Mobile's Edge (2G) coverage was slightly better than AT&T.

Having done this, There are other carriers (MVNOs) that will let you "bring your own phone", so your options are not limited to T-Mobile. Understand that these MVNO carriers use the infrastructure of AT&T and T-Mobile, so your coverage will not get any better than it would be with either of those carriers

I have some observations and suggestions for those that may want to consider changing carriers :

  • If you are planning to use unlocked phones, make sure you can get them unlocked. AT&T policy is that they will unlock iPhones that are out of contract with no outstanding charges (including ETF fees)
  • Carefully calculate your ETF liability. Payback is much longer if you have a substantial amount of contract remaining.
  • As contracts on your phones expire, get them unlocked, then test with a non-AT&T SIM to confirm the unlock
  • If you wish to keep your existing numbers, initiate the change process at the destination carrier. If you cancel service for your existing phone lines, the numbers will go back into the pool of available numbers
  • As for timing, I would switch less than a week before your billing date. This will minimize the time you will have to wait to close out your old account. If you will need to pay ETF fees, the unlock process may be delayed until the final bill was paid. I mistakenly switched a few days AFTER my billing date, and had the potential of having that third phone unusable for 3 weeks. Fortunately, AT&T was cooperative and performed the unlock once I called them to explain the situation. I did have to call them twice, but everything was very cordial.

So far so good. The only thing I miss so far is being able to forward emails to SMS. Setting this up in GMail involves typing in a confirmation code to verify that the destination address is valid. Unfortunately, T-Mobile's gateway cuts off the message after 160 characters and the confirmation code does not make it through.