Tag Archives: iphone

An Open Response to Lowell McAdam’s Open Response

Recently, New York Times technology columnist David Pogue wrote a blog article (and made, with help from his Twitter followers, a video) highlighting just some of the many, many things wrong with the cell phone industry beyond just the exclusivity contracts currently being investigated by Congress.

In response, Mr. Lowell C. McAdam, the CEO of Verizon, sent Mr. Pogue’s boss, New York Times Chairman and Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, an open letter rebutting these complaints.  Except for the fact that he didn’t actually rebut any of Mr. Pogue’s complaints.  Instead, he made up his own “myths”, and debunked them with his own opinions.  Not exactly the same thing.  So I’ll give the same treatment to Mr. McAdam, except I will actually address the topics he brings up instead of conveniently ignoring them:

Myth #1: Americans pay more for wireless service.
Europeans don’t pay for calls or text messages that they receive.  Americans do.  So okay, I could choose to not answer a call from a number I don’t recognize, and then I wouldn’t be charged for it (except indirectly if I call into the voicemail to check any message left).  But text messages don’t give me that option.  If a spammer sends me a text message, and I don’t have one of those ludicrous text messaging “plans”, then I’m out 20 cents whether I like it or not.  This is patently unfair.

Myth #2: The Wireless sector of the technology industry is not competitive.
His answer to this is that Al Gore says it is.  Sorry, dude, that’s not an argument. Exclusivity deals keep consumers bound to a provider if that is the only provider offering a particular handset (yes, I’m talking about AT&T and the iPhone; isn’t everyone else?). 2 year contracts keep me tied to my provider if I want to switch for any reason, including needing to upgrade a broken or
lost phone with a different model not offered by my current carrier.  Lack of decent coverage by some of the smaller, hungrier carriers such as Cricket mean I’m tied to the big boys if I want to know my phone will work in a major urban area or a small rural area.  Just because Al says it’s competitive, doesn’t mean it’s so.

Myth #3: Wireless customers are treated badly.
An 84% approval rating may be stellar in politics, but in customer service it’s meh. At least, it should be. A company’s motto (coined by Scott Bourne) should not be “We’re not happy until you’re not happy.”
My own dealings with AT&T customer service have found them to be a massive monolith of corporate “We say so” bureacracy. Does that sound like I’m satisfied with them?

Myth #4: The big wireless companies don’t pay attention to rural America’s needs.
Here, Mr. McAdam touts Verizon’s dedication to expanding their network. In my pre-iPhone days, both I and my mother had Verizon and we could not use our cell phones inside her rural-ish-but-not-quite southern New Jersey house, and we’re not talking Timbuktu here, we’re talking 40 miles from Philadelphia! Cingular, AT&T’s predecessor, had ZERO coverage in Fremont, California, the fourth largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I understand the situation has not improved with their acquisition of AT&T’s network.  It’s a simple fact that wireless companies go where the money is, and the money is just not in areas with sparser populations even though they would benefit the most from having reliable wireless phone coverage.

None of this actually covers any of Mr. Pogue’s charges (outrageous pricing for text messages, the way phone subsidies work, etc.).  I’m still waiting to see answers to those issues.

Too Much Crap for 140 Characters

I’m a Twitterholic, but I can’t fit all the crap that’s happened in the last 3 days in just 140 characters.

First and foremost, we had the vomiting baby. It actually started Saturday night, after of all things, a meal of baby food peas. The spectacular green vomit landed all over the baby and the living room rug. But otherwise, she looked fine. We just chalked it up to new food and sitting up right after eating and didn’t think much more about it.

Even on Sunday, the baby acted fine. She took a long nap in the morning, but she’s done that at daycare before so I wasn’t particularly surprised. In the afternoon, it was Sammy’s turn for a nap, and as Mark had been sick all weekend, Sasha and I were left to entertain each other. We danced a little bit, we knocked over blocks a little bit, and generally had a good time.

But in the late afternoon, she threw up again. Now we began to get a little more worried. I cleaned her up and tried to put her to bed, giving her some Tylenol for a mild fever, but she threw up yet again. I eventually got her into bed, but obviously she was going to stay home on Monday. It was a bit of a fitful night, with her waking up at 1:00 AM, 4:00 AM, and for good at 6:30 AM.

After dropping Mark and Sammy off at the Metro, I managed to get her to nap for about an hour. I manage to get through my morning phone meetings, but the last one came just as she was waking up, and she cried throughout the meeting, as all my coworkers heard when I took my iPhone off mute.

Right after that last meeting, I noticed that she was quite warm. I took her temperature and it was a whopping 103.2. Time for some more Tylenol and a call to the doctor’s office. Seriously, while I was navigating the doctor’s voice mail, she through up again. By this point, I had learned to recognize the distinctive little coughing sound and look in her eyes that always preceded another attack of vomiting. So I swiftly carried her into the kitchen where she was free to vomit all over the vinyl floor — which she did. Yuck.

Still on the phone with the doctor, I took her in later that afternoon. This was the worst part. While she felt like she was burning up, her temperature only registered around 100. They pricked her finger to take a blood count and discovered her white cell count was very high (24,000, I learned today). So that prompted more tests: a urine sample for which they used a catheter and a more involved blood draw which took two attempts to get. And after all of that, two simultaneous injections of antibiotics in either leg. My poor baby was being treated like a pin cushion!

She managed to keep down the Tylenol she received at the doctor’s office, but an attempt later that night wasn’t as successful — more vomit. We tried to put her down at bed time, but she ended up puking instead, and again later that evening, throwing up not only the medication but also any Pedialyte and nursing that I had managed to get into her.

Since the only thing that seemed to make her happy was Mommy holding her, that’s pretty much what I did for the rest of the night. Whenever I could squeeze a few drops of Pedialyte into her, and I nursed her as little as possible so that she wouldn’t have too much in her stomach.

Not the most comfortable of nights with her sleeping on my lap and me sleeping sitting upright on the couch, my feet propped up on Sammy’s little chair. Again, she woke up every few hours, but nor more vomiting.

Today, she’s been a lot better. No more fever, and (so far) no more vomiting. Again with a nice nap in her crib in the morning, which allowed me to take a little nap in my own bed. But then, there was my iPhone…

You see, my 3 year old son loves to play with Mommy and Daddy’s iPhones. I let him play with mine for a few minutes this morning while we were getting ready to leave and he had already eaten his breakfast. At one point, and I must’ve missed all this, it fell to the ground. Whether he dropped it or whether it fell from wherever he put it, is still a matter of debate. But this appeared to be the straw after my dropping it a couple of times a few weeks ago. Now the power button in the top right corner won’t press down, or more precisely, won’t come up. It’s permanently down. I can’t power it off, and when it goes off on it’s own, it won’t come back. It just does this continuous reset loop and won’t come to the home screen unless you plug it into the computer.

So I made an appointment to go into the Apple store that’s near Sasha’s doctor. I didn’t really want to drag her to the mall, but she had another appointment today anyway and she looked like she was feeling better. Most importantly, she hadn’t thrown up at all today and wasn’t running a fever. So after her morning nap, it was off to Montgomery Mall.

The genius tried resetting it, but that didn’t fix the problem, since it was a hardware problem, not a software one. Alternatives: replace with another Edge phone for $199, or spend that same amount for a new 3G. Well, reluctantly I opt for buying a 3G, except I would’ve opted for the 16 GB model which would’ve run $299. (There was also a now-moot option of working a deal with Best Buy Mobile, but that didn’t pan out so I won’t bore you with those details.) Time was now running short to get to Sasha’s doctor’s appointment, so I start the process online in the Apple store. But instead of $199/$299 for the 3G phone, AT&T wants to charge me the full, unsubsidized price (what is it, $499/$599?)! WTF?!?

The genius suggests I go to the AT&T store and try to work out a deal there. So I go. But no deal. The guy won’t give me the subsidized price (apparently since we used our 1 Edge phone upgrade option when Mark upgraded his phone). He keeps offering alternatives, each one more ludicrous than the last. I finally leave, almost in tears, to wolf down a quick McDonald’s lunch and get Sasha to her appointment.

The appointment goes much better today than yesterday. Only one pin prick to measure a closer-to-normal white blood cell count. The urine culture ruled out a UTI, and the blood work is still pending. Sasha cried nearly the whole time, more from the memory of yesterday, I think, than of discomfort.

After a quick side trip to pick up some prescribed antibiotics (which I think are totally unnecessary, BTW), we’re home, where she’s laughing and rolling, and knocking down more blocks.

But I’m still iPhone-less.

Baby Sasha, feeling better this afternoon.
Baby Sasha, feeling better this afternoon.

Listening to Video Podcasts w/o the Video on Your iPhone

I subscribe to several news video podcasts (such as the NBC Nightly News) that I listen to at work. I subscribe to the video feeds because I like to have the video option available, although 90% of the time I’m content to just listen to it. And since this is at work (and I don’t keep an iPhone cable with me), I’m often concerned about exhausting the iPhone’s battery before the end of the day.

So, in order to keep power consumption at bay, I’ve found a trick to turn off the video on a video podcast yet still listen to the audio content. By default, you can turn off the screen on audio content and continue listening, but to do so on any video content will also turn the audio off. Here’s the way around that:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Home Button and check “iPod” under “Double-clicking the Home Button goes to:”. Also, set the slider for “iPod Controls” to “On”.
  2. Go into iPod mode of the iPhone, choose the video content you want to listen to and begin playback.
  3. Turn off the screen by clicking the power button on the top right of the iPhone. Audio and video playback will stop.
  4. Double-click the home button on the iPhone. The iPod controls will appear underneath the clock.
  5. Press the “Play” triangle. The background screen will change to the title screen of your video content, the audio will begin, but the video will not begin playing.
  6. Click the power button on the top right of your iPhone again. The audio will continue, but the screen will go dark.

This will work for music videos as well as video podcasts. I’m presuming that it will also work for TV shows and movies, but I don’t have any content like that on my iPhone so I can’t test it.

Unfortunately, once you go back into your iPhone (that is, move the unlock slider from left to right), the iPhone will immediately resume the video playback, and if you try to leave iPod mode to go do something else, the audio will cease again. (This stinks because I often need the calculator while working, and hate having to stop and start my podcasts all the time.) At least, however, this is a way to conserve some battery life when you really don’t need to see the video in your video podcast.