Monthly Archives: February 2009

Cell Phone Redemption

After puttering around the house for a while and doing my requisite time at the gym, I figured it was time for some more fun at the cell phone store.  Guessing that the mall store would be overrun with teenyboppers, I headed to the other standalone Sprint location in town (well, Fairmont.)

Pleasantly surprised that even though there were a bunch of cars in the parking lot shared with a few other stores, there wasn’t a sole in the Sprint store.  I head up the counter and I remade my case.  My cat busted my phone, it works ok, except it doesn’t ring, I don’t have insurance, and I really don’t want to pay full retail for another phone.

The guy started by saying he’d take a look at the phone, but wasn’t sure he’d be able to do anything.  He asked how old the phone was and I said less than a year.  He then said that the best thing to is probably to try to get Palm to do a warranty replacement.  I told him I was trying to see if anybody in town could do anything for me before going that route.  That and being so close to the 1 year timeout on the warranty, I’m pretty sure that they’d find a way to screw me.

I said, well, while I’m here can you at least take a crack at it?  He said, yeah it’d cost me $15 to open it up, even if he couldn’t fix it.  I said sure, guessing that it was probably something easy to fix after getting the phone open.  He said give him and hour and fifteen minutes and stop back in.  I ducked out and killed the time with aimless wandering in Lowes and Walmart locations nearby.

An hour and fifteen minutes later, I stroll back in.  He said, good news and ducked into the back room.  On his way back into the showroom I could already hear the blink blink blinks of him stepping through the menus to preview the ringer to show me everything was working.  Sweet.  So, I said how much do I owe ya, he said its $15.  Cool.

So, to help mitigate further calamities, do you have any Centro cases?  He had a nice gel jacket and picked it.  After ringing me out, he promptly moved my number from the backup phone back to the repaired phone.

All in all, I’m pretty happy.  My phone works again, and I didn’t drop a whole lot of money to make it happen.  I think Sprint Fairmont just became my new default location for when I need to deal with them in person.

Cell Phone Hell

Helpful, hint of the day… don’t break your cell phone in the middle of your contract period if you don’t have insurance.  Last week, I left my Palm Centro on the kitchen counter, where I’ve been parking my phone pretty much forever.  A short while later, I heard a crash, and the characteristic scurrying sound of a cat running for cover.

The phone looked like it made it through the ordeal ok, but later I noticed a quirk when I plugged it in to charger later that evening.  Hmm, it didn’t make the familiar ding dong sound when I jacked in the power connector.  Strange, its not a quiet mode and the I didn’t turn down the ringer.

The phone and internet stuff seems to work ok.  So, I messed around some more and went to the media player on the phone and tried to play some tunes.  Uh oh, it plays fine, but no sound.  Oh fudge, the ringer speaker (which is also used for the music player and speaker), seems to be busted.

Guess its time to visit a Sprint Repair Center.  So, I went on over to their website and found where they are in the Syracuse area.  Of course, none on this side of town.  Cicero or Clay.  Well, the non-mall store in Cicero will probably be less busy.  So, I went there.  Started talking to the rep and barely got my store out before they said, this isn’t a repair center.  No reply to my comment to their website says it was.  They said I need to go to the Clay store.  Off I went.

Happy to see that it wasn’t too busy in the mall store, I wandered in.  One rep working with some customers and another chatting away on the phone.  Soon enough, the one on the phone asked if I needed some help (without finishing up the already in progress phone conversation.)  I gave her my sad story.  First question, of course, was do you have insurance on the phone.  Nope.  Got the standard, blah blah blah, if your phone is important to you should have gotten insurance.  I said, I’ve been a Sprint customer for 11 years, and this the first time I’ve ever had a broken phone.

The rep then went on to say that the tech guy for the story was out at the moment doing some training.  But, she said that he’s expected back in an hour.  I said that I had another phone that I’d like to swap in for the broken phone in the meanwhile, so the rep cut my line to that phone without much hassle.

I asked if I could just leave my phone and the tech could get to whenever.  She said that they can’t do anything like that because they can’t be held responsible for the phone when its in their hands.  What the?  So, ask the semi-obvious follow up question, if the tech guy can’t fix the phone in real time, won’t he need to hold on to it?  She said if he can’t fix it real time, I’m probably out of luck.  Hmm, don’t like where this is going.

I said, I’d wait out the hour and come back.  But, in the meanwhile, I had some account questions.  If I end up needing to get a new phone, can I use the $150 re-up credit from another line in my family plan.  No, of course not; to qualify for any mail-in rebate on a new phone, you have to have it activated on the line being re-upped (for at least 30 days.)  Ok, fair enough, I guess.  Well, I’m coming up on the 1 year contract anniversary on the line for the busted phone, so I have at least $75 in re-up credit.  So, that means, I can get a phone for new guy price (the low price they list for the phone that has all the fine print after it) +$75, right?  Well, it turns out the new guy price usually includes more incentives that the $150 2 year re-up credit.

So, a new Palm Centro (which has some enhancements on my older model) has a new guy price of $79.  But, if I wanna buy one with my $75 of re-up credit, it’ll cost me $224 ($399 – $75 re-up credit, -$100 mail in rebate.) Well, freaking crap, why is this so expensive and complicated?  Guess that I’ll be doing everything possible to fix my current phone.

So, I waited out the hour (which was pretty challenging actually, since Great Northern Mall is looking pretty beat these days.)  I talked with the same rep again.  She said she just talked with the tech and he said that he’s running late.  Didn’t seem that coming.  I said, can you tell me when they’ll be in again?  I didn’t have any patience left at that point.

Its been a busy week, so I haven’t had a chance to make it back yet.  Gonna try to make another trip sometime this weekend.  Keep you posted.

Question to the blogosphere:  are all cell phone companies this annoying?  I speculate that changing carriers doesn’t really help all that much and they’re all approximately the same level of annoyance in the big picture.  What’s your experience?  Feel free to share your horror stories in comments.

DMB ’09 Summer Tour Announced

Just got some spam from the Warehouse regarding Dave Matthews Band some tour plans.  Interesting, they’re opening at Darien Lake on May 27.  Hmm, a two-fer at SPAC 2 weeks later (maybe a little Birthday trip, or early wedding anniversary celebration?)  Hold the phone, Syracuse on August 4th?  Now we’re talk’n.

I may be too old and crusty to suffer through the long drives and traffic at Darien and SPAC, but I think I can handle the short 10 minute drive over to the ball park.

The Squeezebox Boom

One day, a while back I was checking my stats over at last.fm and saw a banner add for the Squeezebox Boom (now made by Logitech) and thought it was a pretty nifty little device.  At first you think its just a simple net radio that lets you tune in internet radio stations, but it turns out that its far cooler than just that.  On a whim, I added to my Amazon wishlist.  I was pleasantly surprised when it showed up under the tree at the in-laws.

The unboxing was nearly as nice as an Apple product.  Easily recyclable cardboard packaging, sensible documentation, and nice drawstring travel bag for the unit itself.  A nice touch is that the small (but functional!) remote docks on top of the unit magnetically (similar to Apple remote on an Imac.)  The setup was pretty easy; just plug in the AC adaptor, install the Squeeze Center software on my host mac, and dial in the access password for my wifi network.  No surprises, and everything worked right the first time through.

My primary intent for the radio was to have something away from my computer to play my vast MP3 library.  The Squeezebox does that pretty well.  It provides a reasonable interface to search by artist, album, and track.  The Squeeze Center software was able to suck all my tracks out my iTunes catalog without much trouble, though it did seem to chew up a lot of CPU for about 20 minutes.

The Squeeze Center runs as its own webserver on your host computer.  You access it on port 9000 (think that’s tunable.)  From its interface, you can configure options on your Squeezebox hardware and completely remote control it.  That sounds kinda weird at first, but I frequently find the specific album I’m looking for in the easy online search, then just send it over to the box to start playing it.  That’s more because I have to squint to read the Squeezebox’s display from across the room;  stupid eyes.

The other feature that caught my eye on when I was checking out the spec’s originally was the ability to have it scrobble your listening to last.fm.  For a stats junkie like me, this is a pretty nifty feature.  Its also a gateway into the other super cool internet features.  Besides being able to play any Shoutcast online radio stations, it also plays last.fm stations (tags, personal stations, and recommendations) and Pandora.  Both of which add a lot of interesting set it and forget it options that let you queue up a bunch of good listening with minimal effort. It also has its own collection of online stations.  I was delighted to see that it included KPIG, a favorite station out of Freedom, California.

After seeing how good the interface and software were, I was a little pessimistic that the sound quality from the unit’s speakers would be a kind crummy.  I was quite surprised that the sound is actually quite decent.  Its definitely not something that you would mistake for a Bose Wave Radio, but, far better than other boxes the same size.   Its also plenty loud; in my small office at home, I rarely put higher than 25% on its volume scale.

All in all, I’m very pleased with my Squeezebox.  It wasn’t what I would consider cheap, but after playing around with it for a few weeks, I’m thinking the price is pretty reasonable.  Looking forward to many hours of happy listening in the near future and finding more hints and hacks to make it even better!

Hot Stuff… Now using Feedburner

All the cool blogs use Feedburner to host their RSS.  Now, I do too.  As far as I can tell, if you’re already subscribed, nothing will change for you some smoke and mirrors on this end will route everything through Feedburner’s servers automagically.  I don’t think you’ll need to do anything, but if things stop working for you, try subscribing directly to my Feedburner URL: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/JasonCrowthersBlog.  If still no workey, drop me a comment and I’ll get you working again.

WordPress Upgraded to 2.7.1

Finally getting around to updating WordPress again.  I was waaaay behind the times.  After messing around with the new admin interface (not that many changes on the end user side that I’ve noticed.) I have to admit that I should have upgraded sooner.  Oh well, such is life.

I also got around to turning on Aksimet comment spam filtering.  For reason, I’ve been getting slammed lately with hundreds of annoying bot generated spams.  I’m not sure why I never tried to setup up Aksimet previously.  Its pretty much a no brainer.  It was also happy to buzz through the 5700 queued up comments that I’ve been dreading looking at.

Onward and upward,  hopefully I’ll find a little more motivation to work on some other website enhancements.  Stay tuned.