sprint PCS vs. AT&T wireless

the bin No Comments »

Like the majority of folks, Elaine and I both have cell phones. Instead
of adding an extra phone to an existing plan, we decided a couple years
ago to have separate accounts with different providers just to check if
coverage was better with one over the other in our area. I’ve had a
sprint PCS account for the last five years and Elaine has been with
AT&T wireless for two. - AT&T Wireless regional advantage plan (features:international dialing, voicemail, 2-way text messaging, call waiting and caller ID.)
We have a Nokia 8260 phone with this plan. The phone operates pretty
much like any other nokia brand phone. It’s cute and real small….
which has it’s advantages and disadvantages. The on/off button is the
only thing i don’t like about the phone - you have to use your
fingernail to press down on the button since it’s small and set flush
at the top of the phone. The features you get with the plan is very
similar to what we have with sprint except you get the additional
feature of 2-way text messaging. I’ve used it a couple of times but
it’s tough and annoying to type a response using the keypads. if your
friends know your number, they can easily send a quick email to your
phone which is pretty neat. As for the coverage in our area : it pretty
much stinks. For some reason there are a lot of dead spots around town
and near our home but once you get to the interstate it works great.
While travelling throughout the state and part of virginia, we
definitely noticed some dead areas but for the most part we had pretty
consistent coverage. If they ever get to adding better coverage near our home, I think the service would be a keeper. But for now, local coverage-wise, I give it a thumbs-down.

- Sprint PCS free and clear plan (features: voicemail, caller ID, call waiting, numeric paging, three way calling)
One thing that i’ve been impressed with is TP-1100’s durability. I’ve
dropped it i don’t know how many times and it’s still working great.
The initial phone i had back when i first joined sprint was an older
Nokia brand phone and it never worked right after it got dropped on the
ground just once.
The TP 1100 is small in size like the Nokia 8260 although the TP 1100
is thicker since it’s a flip phone. The phone’s menu interface is kind
of cumbersome but once you get used to the quirks it’s pretty adequate.
Feature-wise again, pretty similar except text messages are charged
extra per message. There is a ‘numeric paging’ feature but you might as
well leave a voice message since you’re calling the same number anyway.
As for service coverage: I like that it’s nationwide so that the phone
can be used anywhere across the US (which i’ve taken advantage of on
numerous occasions i.e. business trips to LA, Chicago and Philly).
Locally the coverage is pretty good. There are some dead areas but not
as much as AT&T. After using it the past few years, I have to say
that i’m pretty satisfied with the service. It’s definitely not perfect but sure beats AT&T.

why pay full price? Say NO to AOL!

the bin No Comments »

It’s still unbelievable that there are so many folks using full-priced
ISPs like AOL, MSN and earthlink when there are so many other CHEAPER
and sometimes even BETTER services available. I admit, I was an AOL
user back in the day. From what I remember, I was a subscriber from
1994 to 1998. I jumped ship when they decided to increase their monthly
fees. I switched to bellsouth at the time when they had a $10 a month
plan for a certain amount of hours per month limit (i don’t remember
exactly how many hours but it wasn’t much.) Around 1999, bellsouth also
increased their prices so I started to look around again. And around
that time, free ISPs were getting popular (remember them, the ones that
gave you free access and you allow yourself to be bombarded with ads!)
I hooked up with Freei.net for awhile and they were pretty good at the
time, their ads weren’t that intrusive. Then came ifreedom.com. They
allowed you to surf for free with no ads (in twenty minute increments,
and then you had to click on their pop up ads in order to get another
twenty minutes..) By the end of 2000, the dot-com bust happened and
most of the free internet providers closed up shop. I think dotnow
(another free isp) was still around at that time so I used them for a
while. in 2001, a website called dunningfools exposed the unseemly
world of dunning (where surfers would share ways to gain access to the
internet at no cost). Once the major ISPs got wind of all of this,
their lawyers came down hard on this site and the users scattered. But
once you stop paying for internet service it’s hard to start back up so
I continued to look toward free service. So during the summer of 2001,
bluelight was available for free (as long as you can stand ads from
kmart). But not for long, they also switched to ‘pay’. Without
dunningfools and bluelight and the fact that I did not want to use
Netzero/Juno due to their ‘blah’ software, I succumbed to the ways of
‘pay’ and paid AT&T for their $4.95 service…… which was pretty
good while it lasted (they discontinued their cheap service and
switched everyone to their $15 service. no thanks!) With the help of a
great website: freedomlist.com, I found a great ISP at a great price by the end of 2001: access4less.net.
And it’s been over a year since I initially signed up with them and the
service has been great. Their monthly fee is $5.95 for unlimited
access. They don’t require any software and they’ve been very reliable
and the connection speeds have been very consistent. They provide email
and newsgroup access and they don’t force any ads on you. As the recent
past has shown, a lot of these types of businesses come and go but I
really hope access4less.net sticks around for awhile. I wish them big
success against operations like AOL and MSN who are blatantly price
gouging the public for something that definitely should be less than
$10 a month. If any of you are pay more than $10 a month for access,
please check out access4less and see if they have a local access number
in your area. You can definitely save some dough by switching. Post a
note to me here on the website if you decide to sign up with them b/c I
have a special link that you can use to sign up and by-pass the setup
fee that they normally charge new signups.
So to sum up: AOL, MSN, earthlink = evil. access4less.net = $aving$


the bin No Comments »

back in june of 2001, AT&T started charging an extra monthly fee so
that we can “benefit” from being a “special” AT&T long distance
customer with a “low” 7 cents per minute rate. So even if we didn’t
make a long distance call, we would get charged $3.95 just for the
“privilege” of being an AT&T customer! wonderful! So, at the time,
I quickly looked for alternatives and through the advice of the famous,
all-knowing, consumer-advocate, Clark Howard, I signed up for ZoneLD. Now here’s what you get through ZoneLD:

no extra monthly fees, 5.5 cents per minute anytime, on-line account
management, control over international calling rates and electronic
I’ve been a customer with them since July 2001 and had no problems with
calls or billing errors. And there are no extra numbers to dial since
they basically act as a another long distance carrier. My account is
set up where I DO pay by regular check which, i think, they don’t offer
to new customers anymore - I think they only offer to accept payment
through your credit card or some other electronic payment service. And
now that they do that, they offer lower rates since they don’t have to
process payments the old fashioned way. I believe the rates are now at
4.5 cents per minute plus you get 4 cents a minute for five states of
your choosing. So I recommend using zoneLD. My dislike for AT&T has
heightened recently with a rash of rude telemarketing calls trying to
persuade us back to the fold. One telemarketer even tried dirty little
tricks to get you to say “yes” on the phone so that they would have a
recording of you saying “yes”. The person kept on claiming that they
couldn’t hear you and repeatedly asked “hello? are you still
there?….” which would make people respond “yes”. but Elaine didn’t
fall for the tactic and gave the person a piece of her mind instead. so
to sum up: AT&T: BAD, ZoneLD: Good.

P.S. - If you decide on signing up with zoneLD upon reading this
recommendation, please send me a note and i can email you a special
signup link which will give me credit for the sign up and will give you
an added bonus as well. ;) wink, wink…

my compaq ipaq 3135

the bin No Comments »

back around the summer of 2001 the Compaq Ipaq 3135 PDAs were being
discontinued and i couldn’t resist the great deal they had at Staples
so I picked one up for $120 (after the rebates).
So, what’s the update on the monpaq after a year and a half of use? I’m
still using the PDA and it still works great. I did hit a snag early on
when the headphone jack malfunctioned (apparently very common with this
unit). Compaq fixed it for free of course. Since then i haven’t had any
problems with it. The only ‘bad’ thing i have to say about the pda is
that it has a monochrome display. But I guess the benefit of this is
that you can go longer between charges compared to color units. I
mainly use it for the calendar/appointment/address book features. and
for those who are interested, here’s all that i have on the unit:
-gigabar : a wonderful app, a required enhancement for the desktop
-Calendar+/Today’s info/Task Plus : great mods for the ‘Today’ page
-ewallet : great app for personal info
-GNUBoy (gameboy emulator) with a couple games
-a couple of ebooks and loads of web articles for MS reader
-tipster : tip calculator for dummies
-tetris, chess and pocket pop of course
-and of course the usual programs: ms money, word, excel, IE browser, windows media player
-CF sleeve with 64MB CF card full of MP3s
-EB leather case
i might get a CF modem card for cheap so that i can check email while
on the road without a laptop. but that all depends on if i want to
upgrade to a new color pda anytime soon. the prices for smaller and
faster pdas have fallen dramatically this past year. For instance, a
new color 300 mhz PDA by Dell called the Axim X5 is $199 after rebate.
But again, a new PDA isn’t going to be placed that high on the family
“wish list” ….. you know, kids and the wife come first. ;) but you
never know, maybe the prices for new color Pocket PCs will fall and
break the $150 barrier? One can only dream……..
On a side note, my ‘first’ PDA, albeit for only a couple months, was
the Psion Revo (which were running around $99 back when i purchased
one). Do you guys remember these little units. It had a full keyboard
and a wide monochrome screen. It ran on EPOC OS and they were popular
in europe but didn’t make a dent in the market here in the US. I liked
it a lot but the case was fragile. The hinge broke on my unit and i
went back and returned it for a refund which led to my monpaq purchase.
I kinda miss the full keyboard feature though.

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