Free at last

My son cracked his cellphone screen. We paid insurance to Verizon for that sort of thing.

Turns out, Verizon farms the insurance out to someone else. Verizon used to send a new phone (ok, a refurbished one) out and you’d ship the broken one back.

Not any more. Now you have to go to this other vendor, and pay them a ransom, to get the phone fixed, or replaced. I don’t know what they do since I balked at how much I’d have to pay. What is the point of paying for insurance if it does you no good?

The point is, his broken screen, and my unsuccessful attempts to get Verizon to lower our bill, are just the straws that broke our back and why we left.

So we have a new carrier, and we all have new phones. I finally am free of that horrible piece of shit I owned, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. 

I’ve had nothing but loathing for that phone almost since day one. Ok, maybe after a few weeks. I’ve ranted enough about it here that I don’t need to repeat it.

My main bitch was its pisspoor reception. I admit, I work inside a Farraday Cage of a building. No phone I’ve owned since working here, had very good reception. I’ve gone through two Samsung Galaxies (the first gen and this S7), a Nokia Windows 8 phone, an iPhone, and a Motorolla Droid. 

All had bad reception in my building and in the mall, where there are several dead zones. 

But the S7 Edge was the worst of the bunch. Reception woes, even WiFi, continued to plague it even at my own home. I’d be next to my wife and her Samsung Galaxy S7 got great reception while mine wouldn’t get shit.

And this wasn’t just data reception, some days, maybe because of the weather (see radio wave propagation), I couldn’t send texts and phone calls would drop off.

The S7 Edge also sucked with bluetooth. It never ever did pair with my car and always had issues pairing with most other devices.

We had two options when my son’s phone broke. I could just get him a new phone with Verizon or we could all switch to a new carrier.

Since my reception problem at work seemed to effect every phone I owned, then the problem was either my building, in which case I was screwed no matter what I did, or it was my carrier and switching might help.

That was my impetus for switching to US Cellular. They claimed to have great coverage here.

So we switched. And I chose an LG V20. 

First cool thing is, they’ve done away with the trapezoid shaped mini USB cables that only fit one way to charge and eventually broke the connector from continual jamming the damned thing into the hole the wrong way. This new plug fits either way. My son chose the Samsung Galaxy S8 and it has the new plug as well. Good. That old plug sucked.

Second cool thing is, my V20 paired with my car’s Blue and Me! Whoohoo! Success! The car even recognized it as a V20. And this morning when i got in and started the car, it asked me if I wanted to upload my contact list! It knows me!

Third cool thing is I get 4G LTE signal in my building! Not 3G. Not 1x. Not no signal at all. Those were common with the S7 Edge. No. I get a real, honest to goodness signal.

And you know what else i found out? There are no dead zones in the mall!

All my phone woes were because Verizon Wireless sucked! Can you hear me now? Yes, goddammit! I finally can hear you now!

Honestly, I hate to judge something after only two days, but so far US Cellular and the LG V20 are amazeballs!
To steal a slogan: LG — Life’s Good.

(And if I irritated anyone with my split infinitives, it was on purpose.)

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The day the music died

As you should be aware if you follow my blog, I hate my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. I’ve written twice about it since I got it in June.

Hate. It. With. Passion.

My biggest complaint has been that the receiver is just weak. I can’t get decent signal strength at work and even at home on wi-fi, reception is spotty.

But the one thing I kept forgetting to mention in those reviews was it’s music capabilities. When I first got it, I was able to load a small portion of my music library to it with the intent of adding the rest when I had more time.

The problem is, it hasn’t allowed me to add more and I can’t figure out why. 

I’ve followed online directions. For some reason when you connect the S7 Edge to your computer, the phone defaults to Charging mode. If you want it to do something else, like transfer files, you have to swipe down and change that on a menu.

How idiotic is that? I would think once you plug it in that should be it. It connects, it charges, it transfers files, it’s happy. Like every other phone I’ve ever owned.

But no, not the S7 Edge. It has to be difficult.

The other issue I’m having is regarding connecticity with the computer. Once I do the swipe, the computer sees the phone, recognizes it as a storage device, but files won’t transfer!

Use Windows Media Player to sync? It won’t. In fact, it crashes WMP. Use Explorer to drag music over? Nothing happens.

Even rebooting both devices won’t help.  So the few songs I had downloaded when I first got the device I was stuck with. I couldn’t add any more.

But now this morning, I go to listen to my music and… Nothing! There is no music! Somehow all my music, and only my music, was wiped from the S7 Edge! 

I’m this close to smashing this piece of shit with a sledge hammer.

Tonight, I’m going to do a factory reset and see if that solves anything. Maybe I had downloaded some app that was preventing my phone from transferring music. Fine if that works. That won’t explain what caused my already downloaded music to disappear.

And if you can recommend a good quality music playing app, I’d appreciate it. On my Droid Turbo I had the Poweramp and I was very satisfied with it. On the S7 Edge, however, the app plays much too softly. It has no volume to it no matter how I set up the equalizers.

I’ve downloaded and tried a few, Black Player being the one that seemed to work best with this phone, but I deleted that to see if it was interfering with my downloading of music. It wasn’t.

I do not recommend the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.  In fact, I rate it a piece of shit. Avoid it. (Note: my wife owns the Galaxy S7 and loves it. So if you think you need a Samsung, get that instead of the Edge.)

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The Edge of Tripe

I apologize for not posting much recently, but I’ve actually been doing some real writing, fiction-type writing. 

And no, I wasn’t participating in NaNoWriMo. I don’t need an artificial challenge to write shit. I can write shit all on my own, thank you very much.

And speaking of shit, I thought I’d do a long term review on my smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. I first reviewed it here. OK, it wasn’t a review so much as I savaged it.

Well, time hasn’t improved matters. After six months of ownership, I’m chomping at the bit to replace this piece of shit. It is by far the worst smartphone I’ve ever owned and I’ve owned a few.

My first “smartphone” was an LG something or other with a slide-out keyboard. it wasn’t an android device, it had a weird user-interface and to get online (which I rarely did because we didn’t have a data plan at the time) you clicked on the LG browser icon and were launched into an AOL-style experience. Anyway, it came out about the time the iPhone first did, before android, when Crackberry dominated the market and touchscreens were still in their infancy.

My next real smartphone was the first generation Samsung Galaxy S. I liked it at first, but quickly found it didn’t like the area where I had just started working: downtown in the mall.

Thus started my love/hate with smartphones. The building I’m in is, as I’ve mentioned, like a Faraday Cage. Reception within sucks. Although some people seem to do it, I haven’t been able to. 

That first gen Samsung Galaxy S wouldn’t connect to the Internet until I did a hard restart by yanking the battery once I stepped outside my building. 

My next phone was the iPhone 4S. Oh, yay, Seri! Personally, I don’t get the whole fad of talking to your phone (or those Google home devices where you can turn on the sprinklers to get rid of annoying people on your lawn). I don’t like to talk. Period. Not to people. Not to my devices. Seri, therefore, was a wasted accessory for me. But beyond that, and at first I was thrilled with the iPhone, I soon came to loathe it. For many reasons which I won’t get into. I’m sure I ranted about them four or five years ago. But the iPhone’s reception sucked, too. I had to do a hard reboot all the time to connect to the Internet.

At this point, I’d tried Android and the iPhone and found both lacking, so I picked up a Nokia Win7 phone. If memory serves, the hardware was pretty decent (Yay Finland!), but the disappointing part was the lack of apps for Windows phones.Basically, with that phone I could get online, but the apps sucked so bad it didn’t really matter that I’d gotten on.

My next phone was the Motorola Droid Turbo. I liked this phone, except the camera sucked. it was like time warping back to 1998. This phone suffered from severe digital lag. Snap a picture and seconds later the picture takes. Forget action shots unless you could anticipate when something would happen. “Oh, my son’s shooting a basket!” *click!* And by the time the phone reacted, all the players were already at the other end of the court. “Hey, nice shot of an empty court, dude.” Shut up.

So I traded that in for this, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. Yes, it takes excellent pictures. I have a great portable camera.

But for anything else? It sucks. As I mentioned in my first look post, the receiver is THE worst. (Pronounce it like thee for full effect.) I have to restart or do a shutdown all the time so it’ll find a signal.

Wi-Fi isn’t any better. I can sit right next to my wife in our house and she’s Facebooking and Instagramming like all get out, but there I sit only a few feet away unable to get a fucking signal. It can’t find the Wi-Fi. And she owns the standard Samsung Galaxy S7! WTF?

Does hers have a better receiver? Because her phone is thicker, was Samsung able to squeeze a bigger, more powerful receiver in hers and we S7 Edge owners get stuck with inferior crap?

I don’t know. All I do know is I hate this piece of shit phone and I can’t wait until I can trade it in for something else. Maybe the new Motorola Droid Turbo 2, if they’ve improved the camera. Or possibly the latest LG (which I was looking at until the Verizon Wireless rep talked me into this POS. “Oh, the S7 is so much better!” Or maybe I’ll get the latest HTC, that one with the stereo speakers, because the speaker on the S7 Edge is horrible. No. Horrible would be a improvement. You need headphones to listen to videos because it its one weak ass tiny speaker on the bottom can’t be heard unless you’re isolated inside soundproof room.

Okay. Sorry. That really wasn’t a review so much as as rant about every smartphone I’ve ever owned, was it? This phone really has me on edge. Pun intended.

Maybe one day I’ll find a phone I can be happy with. 

What do you have? Are you happy with it? Whose your carrier? Are you satisfied with them? Feedback it’s appreciated.

Until next time.

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Samsung Edge disappoints

I’ve had my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge for little over a week now and I can tell you this: it sucks.

I know what you’re thinking. “How can that be? Everyone is raving about it. I’ve read the reviews!”

Sure, the Edge gorgeous. It’s got that cool curved edge on the screen with scrolling notifications. And the camera is fantastic. It’s the best phone camera I’ve owned.

“Well then what’s the problem?”

It’s the receiver. This phone has the worst receiver of any phone I’ve ever owned with the possible exception of the crappy free noname Sprint phone we got back in 1995.

As you know, I work in a Faraday Cage-like building. But I know that and really don’t expect much in the way of Internet access. I do, however, expect to be able to receive calls at my desk–like every other cellphone I’ve owned.

Not this one. It rings, I answer, it drops the call.

I’m also aware that the mall I walk in on breaks when the weather is inclement (and this is Wisconsin, so the weather is always inclement) is called the Black Hole by the cellphone stores inside it.

But I’ve also been walking it for 6 years.  Six years and 5 phones. I know all the areas where there is weak reception and avoid the one dead spot.

The receiver on the Edge is so piss poor, the entire mall is one big dead spot! Even though it says it has a couple bars of 4G LTE, it still chugs away before giving me the notice “Try again when you’re online.”

I am online, asshole!

And you’d think going outside would clear things up, but no. Even in the open the Edge finds the dead spots.

“Post will appear when you’re online” is Facebook’s standard response to my attempts to post from this phone. It really chaps my ass.

It’s sad that I have to carry my little Jetpack mobile Hotspot with me so I can get online with this phone, but that’s the situation.

Yet even its reception of Wi-Fi sucks. We have home Wi-Fi and all our phones and devices can pick it up throughout the house and in the yard.

Not the Edge. I go outside and it complains there is no Wi-Fi signal. But instead of switching to the 4G network, it just sits in Limbo, unable to make up its mind what to do. Leaving me without any Internet, wondering if I should just drop it into the grill and be done with it.

In the time it’s taken me to write this I’ve watched my Edge say “connected to Wi-Fi,” “Lost Wi-Fi,” “connected to Wi-Fi,” “Lost Wi-Fi,” countless times.

So, in summary, if you plan on using the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge for anything other than a fairly decent camera, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

And the “beast of a battery” some reviews claim is pure bullshit. Maybe it’s an improvement over the S6, but compared to my last phone, the Droid Turbo, it’s like it doesn’t even have a battery. I have to charge it two or three times a day.

For a supposed state-of-the-art phone the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is a monstrous disappointment.

Makes me wonder if Samsung isn’t engaging in a little payola to get those glowing reviews for this POS.

I wonder if Verizon will let me swap for the latest LG?

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Saturday shopping for shoes

Stopped in at Verizon today. The contract for our Motorola Droid Turbo smartphones was up and we were eager to be rid of them. Not that they are bad phones. No, I’d still say they were one of the best I’ve owned recently.

The problem with the Droid Turbo was the camera. It sucked. It suffered from digital lag, something I thought had been fixed over a decade ago with the second or third generation of digital cameras, but Motorola must not have gotten the memo.

So we got rid of those and now I have a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and my wife chose the Samsung Galaxy S7. Don’t ask me about it yet, I haven’t put it through it’s paces, but that’s because we went to the store next to Verizon.

If you recall, and if you do, I’m really surprised, a few blog posts back I mentioned that Fleet Feet in Brookfield was having their Milwaukee Running Expo. So we stopped by to see what was going on.

To be honest, I didn’t really have a chance to talk to any vendors or stop by the booths because one of their nice reps stopped us to ask why we were there. I mentioned that I was interested in a new pair of running shoes and was interested in their store because they actually measured your feet for an exact fit.

If you recall, my current pair of running shoes are a size 13, two sizes too big. Don’t ask, I can’t explain.

So he got out the Brannock device and measured both feet while sitting and while standing. (I was the one sitting and standing, not he.) Then, he put me on the treadmill and while I jogged, he took video of my stride. He then explained what was going on. I land on my heel, then my foot rolls toward the inside of my foot. He showed me how my heel and ankle and what was going on. He also pointed out my right foot tends to flatten out more, showing I had a bad arch there.

Then he brought out several pairs of shoes and let me try them on. But not only did I try them on, I could go outside to run or walk or jog or whatever until I got a really good feel for the shoe.

I tried on a Mizuno Inspire, which felt pretty good. Much better than my current Asics Cumulus 16. Second, he let me try a pair of Saucony Omni. They felt even better than the Mizuno. I was almost sold on those until I tried the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16.

Brooks GTS, Men

Brooks GTS, Men

Wow. They felt phenomenal. Then, he showed me these inserts that would help my arch keep from compressing. I know, I know. Didn’t the Sports Authority guy talk me into inserts that hurt my feet? Yes, he did. But this time, when the rep put them in the shoe and I was able to go back outside and run up and down the strip mall a few times, I was sold. They really did feel good. They hugged my foot and helped keep my arch from collapsing without any pain.

My wife also went through the process. She isn’t a runner. Not yet, but she does enjoy walking, so she came away with a pair of Saucony Guide.

Sure, we paid a little more for the shoe. If we wanted to, we could have saved a ton of money elsewhere, but we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near the same personalized service. And personally, I think it would be like taking advantage of their service to then go elsewhere.

In fact, one lady came in and the staff was like. “Oh, you’re back.” I guess she’d been in earlier in the week or something. Then she said to my rep, “I found a pair of the shoes you showed me for a lot less at a competitor. Don’t tell anyone.” Well, what’s he going to say? Probably what I was thinking, “You’re a rude bitch.” She came in acting like they were all her friend but then she had turned around and taken her business elsewhere, like the services at Fleet Feet are free.

Sorry, bitch, but they get a salary for what they do and the business has to pay for the time and equipment they use to determine your exact fit. Coming back in to buy a pair of socks is hardly the way you pay them back for all their fabulous help.

I will certainly be returning to them. They’re service and commitment to providing me with the best shoes and accessories deserve to be rewarded with my continued patronage.

Maybe soon, I’ll use their services to register for a race.

Oh, and I ran tonight in the Brooks Adrenaline and they were fantastic. They were snug and felt like a dream.

Thanks, Fleet Feet!

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Day 5 with Motorola Droid Turbo

It’s been five days that I’ve had the Motorola Droid Turbo. So far, I find it to be a great phone. Much better than the Nokia Lumia 928 I traded in for it. And tons better than the iPhone 4s I had prior to that.

Some quick thoughts: It’s fast. The apps open (some times they didn’t work at all on the Nokia Win8 phone) quickly and operate flawlessly.

It has really nice Internet reception and data transfer at work and in the mall I walk. I’ve only had two minor “Lost Internet Connection” issues and one was in the enclosed stairwell. That’s a whole lot better than my previous three smartphones. The Samsung Galaxy S had a habit of hanging up completely because it couldn’t get a signal in our building. I’d have to shut it down and take out the battery to get it to resync to the Internet. The iPhone hung up, too, often requiring me to do a hard restart. The Nokia wasn’t bad except for the fact that none of the social media apps worked. I could get things through the browser, sometimes. I give it an B+.

The battery is pretty impressive. I unplugged it this morning at 6:30 am and right now at 5:00 pm, it’s at 28%. That’s pretty incredible. Those other phones? I’d have had to plug in by Noon! Sure, the ads say the battery will last two days, but I’m a heavy user. I give it an A+.

As a music player? When I try to drag M4a or WMA, nothing happens. It shows up in the file manager, but you can’t see it in the phone’s player. It only takes MP3 files. Guess I have to figure out how to convert all my files to MP3. That’s a bummer. But the player itself? Awesome. Best sound I’ve ever heard from a smartphone. Great stereo separation. It’s like I’m hearing these songs that I’ve listened to on all my previous phones for the first time. For the sound, I give it an A+, but because I can’t figure out how to use M4a or WMA on it, I give it an overall B+.

The camera. I read one review that said this was the Droid Turbo’s weak point. What? It is 21megapixels. I thought my Nokia, with it’s 8.7 mp with the Carl Zeiss lens was decent, but this, well, even I can take some nice, in focus, pictures. Even my state-of-the-art SLRs couldn’t do that. I give it an A+.

So far, I haven’t run across any negatives on the Droid Turbo. Granted, it’s only been five days and these are just first impressions. But so far, the Droid Turbo is a great smartphone.

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Verizon: Too big to offer sass

I appended a couple paragraphs to the end of my Windows 8 phone blog yesterday. If you read it, then you’ll understand where today’s blog comes from.

As you know, I’m looking to divest myself of my iPhone 4S. It’s been giving me problems lately, some are iPhone specific, like the teeny tiny screen that makes typing and reading a nightmare for me. So I’m thinking of a Windows 8 phone.

But I have Verizon Wireless and with them you get whatever they feel like offering, which is old, outdated phones and bland, conservative colors.

You want something new? Something bold and sassy? You better have AT&T, Sprint, or even one of the smaller companies.

Before I decided on the Win8 phone, I was jonesing over the HTC One. The only smartphone that makes sense if you enjoy listening to music and videos because it has a pair of stereo speakers positioned on either side of (or above and below, depending on your perspective) the screen. It’s an idea that makes so much sense you’d think ALL phones would be like that. But they aren’t. The majority of phones have the speakers  pointed away from you, on the back or bottom, forcing you to cup your hand and get a cramp trying to focus the sound back toward you.

And it’s a nice looking phone, too. Responsive. I was playing with one last night at Best Buy and I like it. A lot.

But Verizon doesn’t offer it. Oddly, I read an article from earlier this year that said Verizon SHOULD be offering it by July. Well, it’s August and still nothing.

If Verizon offered it l (which they don’t! I can’t stress that enough.), I would be hard pressed to decide on which phone to get, the HTC One or the Nokia Lumia 928.

And speaking of Nokia, Verizon also doesn’t offer the latest Nokia, the Lumia 1020, which has a gorgeous 41 megapixel camera. It is another phone I’d like to get but would be out of my price range even if it was offered.

So, by default, I’ll get the Nokia Lumia 928. Probably I. White because again; RED isn’t a color option offered by Verizon.

Why is that? Well, to be cynical, they don’t have to. Verizon is the largest cell phone company. They are making money hand over fist. They have the best, most reliable nationwide network and have had for 20 years. They have the highest customer retention rate, because they know, and you know, anyone who leaves them is taking a big step down service-wise. Maybe one day AT&T will finally deliver on their long-promised blazing fast nationwide 4G network, but they aren’t there yet.

So Verizon doesn’t have to offer the latest and greatest and sassiest. No one is going to leave them for an HTC One. Although you’d think after the fiasco with the iPhone (Verizon was offered the iPhone first but turned it down and then watched as AT&T and the iPhone broke sales records) where they watched millions of customers quit them to joing AT&T just to get an iPhone, that they’d learn to be a little quicker delivering new devices.

But now, they have the iPhone, so they’re pretty smug and obviously don’t anticipate that any other upcoming phones will endanger their bottom line, except maybe the Samsung Galaxy S series, which is the top selling Android phone and the reason they bring that one to market fairly quickly.

But even there, Verizon still offers the bland over the exciting. The Galaxy S4 comes in seven colors: white, black, blue, red, purple, brown, and pink. So guess which colors are available from Verizon?

Right. White. Black. And according to Verizon’s press release, “an exciting new color!” (drum roll!) Brown.

Yawn. No wonder Verizon donates to the Republican Party, they offer stodgy and conservative devices!

I noticed that even Credo Mobile, a small cell phone company that touts itself as not only green and progressive, but that it is the only cell phone company to donate millions to progressive causes, has the HTC One. And, they have a buyout program so you can get out from under the thumb of Verizon (or AT&T, or whomever).

That seems so tempting.

Update 09August2013: I was just informed that, whereas some cell phone companies are decreasing how long you have to wait to upgrade, Verizon Wireless has actually increased the time! They went from 20 months to 24 months! Verizon is so big they don’t have to give a shit about their customers. Credo Mobile and their buyout program is looking better all the time.

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