Jon Kennedy
Jon Kennedy

Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
the Nanty Glo in My Mind

My not-so-new ultimate etoy now

I wrote four blogs about "my new ultimate etoy," Jonals 1142, 1143, 1144, and 1145, back in November and have been describing results of "tests" I've been making of it, specifically of its video camera capabilities, in all but two of the blogs ever since. These, of course, are the "video Jonals" showing highlights of my "hikes" on trails in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live. The "etoy" (for "electronic fun device") is my Internet camera phone, a Sprint 4G EVO manufactured by HTC utilizing Google's Android operating system, and this is a follow-up on the device and the Sprint service.

Jonal number 1145 described some "pleasant surprises" I had had the first week I was using the EVO and also mentioned that I somewhat feared some "unpleasant surprises" when my first Sprint bills started coming because experience with AOL, AT&T, and Comcast has prepared me to expect bad things from such "services." I had been with Verizon for about six years before switching to Sprint and in contrast to the companies just mentioned, Verizon performed as advertized and impressed me as being honest in its dealings (refunding overpayments, for example, before I even noticed them) and always courteous when called for resolution of problems.

Long story short, Sprint has provided a few unpleasant surprises, but none that I haven't been able to get resolved satisfactorily. The main one has been that even though I initially signed up for email billing, I received no emails from them, and when I called they treated me as though I was the one at fault and even tried to charge me $5 to send a paper "duplicate" of a bill I had never received in the first place. Three months in, I am still not receiving either email or paper bills from Sprint but they have trained me to go to "my Sprint" and find my charges and pay them. They agreed to reverse the $5 "duplicate" charge and have done so on some other questionable charges.

But there have been additional pleasant surprises that have offset the unpleasantries. The best is that by around January 10, after I had seen no 4G coverage from Sprint at my home though it is advertised as available throughout this area, it started coming through, and has been dependable at home ever since. I had mentioned in a previous blog that a saleswoman at Radio Shack (where I signed up with Sprint) had encouraged me to standby for coverage improvements, and they have been occuring. I also found, pleasantly, that Sprint service was also adequate at my brother's home in a small town in "the boonies," too, when I spent a few days there at Christmas. The 4G wide-area wireless is great; though I seldom see more than two "bars" when using my phone, even with one bar it is at least as fast as the 3G Verizon modem I was using for several years for my Internet access.

And in my previous blog I had not yet proved whether the "tethering" feature my salewoman told me about was a viable way to get Internet service on my PCs. I finally Googled information about wired tethering of an Internet phone to a PC and by following the directions there and paying $10 for a tethering "app" ("application," a shortcut word meaning "software program") I was able to tether and started getting excellent Internet on my tablet PC. So with Sprint's "unlimited data" plan, I'm ahead in terms of usage charges compared with Verizon.

I've also found that the EVO is easier to use on some Internet features than PCs are. For example, maps are much easier to get because the map app, unlike a Google or other search for maps on a PC, immediately takes you to a map rather than thousands of listings of web pages that might "mention" a map but don't actually contain a map. Also, Google apps for the Android phone work exceptionally well with voice input, such that "texting" is easier to do on the EVO by voice than by typing on the keypad. Google Earth, also, works better on the EVO, because it has built-in GPS so it, unlike your PC, always "knows" your location and finds anything you input (by voice or typing) more readily. I especially appreciated this when my son Kevin was working in Stockholm, Sweden, for several weeks earlier this month. And with the GPS and an optional "carpack" for the EVO that several of my offspring got me for Christmas, it doubles as a faux Garmin, complete with Google audible directions as you drive.

Another pleasant surprise, though an indirect one, is that I feel a certain glow when I see cops on crime shows use their smart phones to show someone photos of a suspect, or they take and transfer crime scene pictures using their phones, instantaneously. I can do that, I can't help thinking, and that also applies to all the commercials on TV these days for EVOs, iPhones, and even iPads. iPads do a few things (but not many) that my smart phone can't do but, at least until the next version of the iPad comes out, my phone can do a few things it can't, not the least of which are taking and transmitting pictures and phone calls.

In short, at this point I'd say my EVO is the best $200 investment I've made, and I'm glad I got it instead of any of its competitors.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

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Today's chuckle

Where lipstick is concerned, the important thing is not color, but to accept God's final word on where your lips end.

— Jerry Seinfeld

Thought for today

Crying is all right in its own way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.

C.S. Lewis (1909 - 1963)

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Jon Kennedy's recent book, The Everything Guide to C.S. Lewis and Narnia, from Adams Media, F&W Publications, is available for purchase in support of the Liberty Museum in Nanty Glo and can be ordered here. It is also available on Amazon.