Verizon the Tyrant

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When my phone plan
was up for renewal I took a hard look at switching for the first time in my
cell phone enabled life. I’ve always
been a Verizon loyalist because their network always gives me great
service. Of course, I’ve always just
been a cell minimalist. I didn’t want
to do anything besides make calls. That
changed when I got a laptop with Bluetooth last year and someone mentioned that
I could sync my computer calendar and contacts up with my phone. I was intrigued, but my phone didn’t have
Bluetooth. So I had to put that dream
on hold while I graduated and waited for my “New Every Two” discount to kick
in.

Once the time drew near, I started doing a little research
to figure out which phone I wanted to get, and was horrified to learn that
Verizon disables most Bluetooth features in their phones so you can’t sync up
with computers and you have to buy one of their service add-ons to exchange
files with computers….which would be fine…except that instead of letting
you just pay the fee and use your phone and computer how you want, you are
limited by their software.

I looked at switching to Cingular, but in the end I decided
it would be easier and cheaper for now to stick with Verizon, and they had just
released a really cool camera phone. So
I took the plunged for another two years and I bought a 3.2 megapixel camera/phone.

I bought the Samsung a-990 so that I could take a lot of
pictures and actually put them on my computer, which seams like it might be a
fairly obvious and common use, but Verizon’s software and policies made that
practically impossible. You can’t
transfer photos from your phone to your computer with either Bluetooth or the
available USB adapter that they offer. You have to use their data service to upload, unless you dig around and
realize you can just buy a mini-SD adapter to transfer the data. So there is a way around it, but no one at
Verizon bothered to mention it to me, from their sales staff, to their in-store
technicians, to their over-the-phone tech people. Even after they told me that the USB cable they sold me was
incompatible with Macs, they didn’t want to help me get around my problem by
recommending the mini-SD memory adaptor solution.

Verizonvcast

 

Next comes V-Cast, which is their video to cell phone
service that they are talking up right now. It sounds like a great idea, but behind the facade of a great idea, it’s
apparent that they are limiting the use of your phone in other ways so that you
have to use their software to download things that are made available by
them. Their music service is the same
way. They restrict their users but try
to make them feel empowered by offering their own service. It reminds me of the way AOL used to make it
hard to actually get away from their proprietary content and out onto the open
Web.

Verizon is setting themselves up to be losers in the coming
world of convergence. Consumers are
becoming more powerful all the time, and restricting their phone’s capabilities
and access to non-proprietary content is a quick way to cause a consumer
revolt. Sure most people don’t
recognize the limits that the company is placing on users now, but as influential
cell phone users and early adopters jump ship to less restrictive networks for
the better phones and freer freedom, those they influence won’t be too far
behind.

So yeah, I bought another Verizon phone and renewed my
contract, but the three-day saga that I endured just trying to get the features
of my phone to be useable is something that I will definitely remember when my
contract comes up for renewal again.
 

North Carolina State Fair Part II, The Demolition Derby

The highlight of our trip to the fair was the demolition derby.  After it opened with a playing of the national anthem (which seemed ironically appropriate),  the drivers started smashing each other's cars to pieces to the thunderous roar of southern accented exclamations.  It was strange, hilarious, yet somewhat … sad.  In any case, it gave me the opportunity to try out the video feature on my new phone, so now I bring to you:  The Demolition Derby. 

North Carolina State Fair (or how I learned to ignore the mullet)

Part of the inspiration for picking up my new
camera phone was the planned visit to the North Carolina State Fair last Saturday. There has never been a stranger cultural
quilt on display than what I was exposed to that day. Between the freakshow and the livestock
displays, Krissie and I were able to eat an incredible amount of various fried
things, although we didn’t even scratch the surface of what was being pulled
from the bubbly depths of the North Carolina deep fryer.

There was the standard fried dough:
Frieddough

Then the less standard deep fried candybars
Friedcandybars

Fried Bologna:
Friedbologna

Fried twinkies:
Friedtwinkies

And the gutbomb stand … featuring deep fried candy bars, deep fried coca-cola, deep fried twinkies, fried dough, and the WMD of all gutbombs, the deep fried CHEESEBURGER.
Friedcoke

*not pictured:  deep fried vegetables and deep fried pickles

Needless to say, I had a stomach ache that night.  Additionally, if you were wondering why America is getting so fat, I offer exhibits A – E above. 

New Phone Exponentially Increases Nerditude

I got a new phone over the weekend: the Samsung a990. It has a 3.2 megapixel digital camera built in and can record
something like 2 hours of video. It’s
kind of ridiculous. It has an actual
camera lens with a lens cover, and when you flip it open, the screen can rotate
around so when you close it again the screen acts as a viewfinder. 

Here’s the front:

Samsunga990front

Here’s the lens:

Samsunga990lens

Here’s the screen in the viewfinder position:

Samsunga990viewfinder

So what does it all mean? Besides friends and family having to endure the embarrassment/hassle
of me taking pictures of everything, I’ll now be able to take more pictures and
video for the blog … its what I like to call “lazy blogging.” No idea required, just upload photos.  Soviet military doctrine at its finest … quantity over quality.