Tag Archives: wifi

Clear-ly Bad Customer Service

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Yay! Finally, I’ll be able to… wait. No, I can’t. The Rover Puck (running on Clear’s service) isn’t working for me, and their customer service is nothing short of a joke.

I don’t know why, but I seem to be having the worst luck with technology lately. For some odd reason, everything I touch seems to stop working near-immediately. And you know me – I’m about as gentle as they come!

You can’t always count on having access wherever you go in the world. I plucked down some serious dough to buy the Rover Puck to make sure I’d have an access point with me. This device promises to keep up to eight devices connected to a 4G network. However, I am pretty disappointed in the Puck. During the first 24 hours of the 48 hour free grace period, I wasn’t able to get online at all… no matter what I tried.

The Rover company is actually Clear – in Rover clothing. Clear is one of the worst consumer electronics companies on the planet in terms of their dastardly customer service options. Clear makes it nearly impossible to cancel any type of service with them – and charges you an arm and a leg to do so. Rover claims to have a month-to-month contract, which seems nice on the surface… IF you can even make it work.

I can’t recommend this product, folks. I just can’t do it. Not only are they a Clear company, they’re using a proprietary cable. That’s another rant in and of itself, as you know. Setting aside the fact that the product won’t work, I cannot in good conscious tell you to try something out that has such horrible support behind it. In order to give the Puck a fair chance at doing what it should, I hopped into a chat with these people. That was a painful experience.

Well, so much for the idea of connecting to a 4G / WiMax network.

iPads and Androids Can Get Along

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Connecting an Android device (by way of hot spot) to an iPad is an excellent solution if you don’t want to use the built-in 3G connection. One caller to the live stream recently asked if I felt it would be faster to stop using his Android device, and simply connect to the Internet using the 3G provided on the iPad. There’s honestly no cut-and-dried answer to this.

Either solution will work, of course, and both will depend on how strong of a connection/signal you can find. When my Dad was deciding whether to get his new iPhone, he was also considering an Android device. He wasn’t sure what type of connection would be the best.

As long as you’re already paying for the service on the Android device, why not stick with that? When what you have is working, there’s nothing to fix or change. I think it’s an excellent option to have a mobile device that can be used as a hot spot.

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Apple TV Moves to Rental Model, Drops Price to $99

Apple TV

DISCLAIMER: I thought the first Apple TV was relatively useless.

Today, Apple announced significant changes to Apple TV at the press event held in San Francisco (which, by the way, was streamed LIVE for the world to watch). The new Apple TV, available by the beginning of October, comes in at 1/4 the size of the original. It’s smaller than a sandwich. You can use a Tupperware container as your carrying case now – provided you’ve cleaned it first.

But there are tastier details to sink your teeth into!

There’s no media to keep track of anymore (through klutzy synching processes and whatnot) – everything will stream live into the tiny slice of digital heaven through either a network cable or WiFi (802.11n). As someone who hates storing media, this change is most welcomed. There’s a reason I use and love both Pandora and Rhapsody for my music, and why I’ve taken to Hulu for available TV show viewing. And on that note…

Once you’ve set up your new Apple TV, you’ll be able to “choose from the largest online selection of HD movies to rent, including first run movies for just $4.99, and the largest online selection of HD TV show episodes to rent from ABC, ABC Family, Fox, Disney Channel and BBC America for just 99 cents.” That’s quite a competitive price for legally-attainable media in conjunction with a convenient interface and service. Not sure I’ll take advantage of this part of the Apple TV, though; I’m not into à la carte media consumption.

Netflix subscribers (like myself) have access to the entire streaming library of Netflix videos. If the video is in your instant queue, you’re just a few clicks away from watching it with Apple TV. You can also view streaming media from YouTube and Flickr – plus watch your favorite podcasts (like a certain someone’s) and access streaming media and images on the computers in your home.

Job(s) well done.

Oh, did I remember to tell you that the price of this sophomore effort has also been cut by 66%! That brings the Apple TV price point to US$99 – a great impulse buy for gadget geeks and mediaphiles. I’ll buy one, pick up a few extra HDMI and power cables, then tote a single unit around the house with me.

While I never considered purchasing the original Apple TV (not once), I can’t wait for this to ship (available in about four weeks to consumers in the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany and Australia).

Am I alone with being impressed?

Gogo Inflight Problem

The other day, I was on an Alaska Airlines flight to Dallas, TX (on my way to speak at OpenCamp). My dendrites were quite thrilled to discover that the plane was WiFi-enabled. Yay! I realize that some people refuse to pay for in-flight Internet, but… the alternative is to “bored” the plane. Get it?! Anyway…

I fired open my Web browser on the iPhone and was greeted with a simple fee structure for the day:

Okay, $7.95 sounds quite doable. I was expecting it to be a bit more, to tell you the truth. Then, I wondered if I should just sign up on my iPad (since I’d be able to browse the Web easier with a substantially larger screen). That’s when I was smacked with this:

Wait a second. It’s the same Internet, it’s the same access point, it’s the same time of day, it’s the same flight – and somehow, Gogo Inflight wants to charge me $3 less on the iPad versus the iPhone? Something smells fishy – and it’s not the fish from First Class.

Yes, this “pointless” price discrepancy really pissed me off. Most people would use one device over another, never thinking of using both – and, certainly, they’d expect to see a quick explanation of the limitations of either usage model. I wondered, then, if Gogo Inflight was profiling (!) me – thinking that since I was an iPhone owner, I could afford to pay more – versus the iPad, which was seemingly being detected as a laptop?

Then again, can’t a laptop “do more” than an iPhone? Why charge more for one over the other? It made absolutely no sense to me – but before sharing my extreme disappointment with the world (via this blog, since I initially tweeted my concerns), I waited to hear from one of their representatives, who kindly explained:

I’m Caitlin, I work on Gogo Inflight Internet and I saw your tweets about the issue that you had with pricing yesterday. I’ve copied Mike on this email, who works directly with our customer care team. We’re both genuinely sorry that you had a frustrating experience, and wanted to take the time to try to explain what happened.

Our prices are based on both device type and flight time, as our team communicated on Twitter. You can see the basic pricing structure here. However, if flight data is not available, as sometimes happens on our equipment, we automatically default to the lowest price available for that device. It sounds like what happened with you yesterday was that the mobile site (which your iPhone would see) was able to give you the correct price based on flight time. However, your iPad, which runs on our laptop site, didn’t get that data and automatically gave you the lowest possible price. We try to always err on the side that benefits the customer, so you got a lower price since we couldn’t find the specific flight data.

Additionally, purchasing on a laptop, netbook, or iPad actually allows you to switch back and forth between that device and any mobile device, although you can’t use both devices at once.

Sorry, guys – but I don’t buy it. In fact, I’m even more confused now.

Why is Gogo Inflight charging less to allow the user to do more?! That’s Caitlin’s assertion: if you buy access from the iPad (“laptop”) for $4.95, you can switch between devices in-flight, but if you buy access on your iPhone for $7.95, you’re stuck with one device?

Dude. Seriously. Gogo Inflight needs a serious altitude adjustment.

Every person should pay the same amount for a flight, regardless of device. Once access has been paid for (once), let the user flip between devices so long as only one of them is on the network at any given time – lest they pay extra for a second device.

Anything less than that is just… devicist.

Free WiFi Rolls Out at Starbucks

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood when you can sip your favorite coffee drink while surfing the Internet for free. Starbucks rolled out their free WiFi access across the US and Canada today, much to the relief of millions of caffeine-powered Geeks. Grab your phone or laptop and head over to the store nearest you. You can sip those Frappuccinos while replying to everything in your Inbox.

Best of all, there’s nothing to sign up for. You don’t need a password, and there are no time limits. As shown in the photo above, you only have to click twice to get online: once to agree to the Terms of Service and again to actually connect. You won’t be locked out (or thrown out) after an hour. You don’t have to come up with yet another fifty-character super-secret password. Just click twice… and go.

Starbucks claims that they feel no one will spend more time languishing over their laptops and drinks than they did before. I have a feeling they are very, very wrong in that assumption. I can already see the work-at-home sector dragging their gear to their local coffee joint and setting up shop at a corner table for an entire day. What better way to make connections, observe others, see and be seen and manage to look as though you are doing something productive is there?

FaceTime on an Airplane at 35,000 Feet!


I’m on my way back to Seattle from Spokane. I decided to initiate a FaceTime chat with my brother, using the free in-flight WiFi. It worked like a charm! Of course, I didn’t talk (that would have been a bit rude). I panned the cameras around a bit to show Adam what was going on, though. Too much fun!

After he saw the photo I captured above, Josh Haley decided to play around a little in Photoshop. I have to hand it to him: my brother has never looked so happy!

What types of things do you do when you have free in-flight WiFi? Do you plan to indulge in some FaceTime, or will you buckle down and get some work finished?

Families Love FaceTime on the iPhone

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Should my dad go with a “Sprint phone” or an iPhone 4? Here’s your chance to influence his decision! The family that FaceTimes together… stays together. At least, virtually. I decided to live stream and capture the first FaceTime call with my parents. I wanted them to see just how easy it was to do.

Then, my dad launched into a series of questions – asking which is better, a Sprint phone or an iPhone? I gave him my answer – but perhaps you have a different response. If you can come up with a good list of reasons of which would be better for him, you can email them to me and I’ll forward them on to him.

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Verizon MiFi2200 Problems

This is NOT a review. If it was, the MiFi2200 would be lucky to get 2 stars out of 10 from me. To view the screencast in better clarity, click the arrow on the lower right side of the video embed and select “Full Screen.”

I recorded this video to better illustrate the multitude of problems I’m having with Verizon’s product. I sent the video to Verizon Support and they auto-responded with a block of text that was absolutely useless in helping me solve the issues.

  1. I can only get connected to the Internet (via the MiFi2200) by way of the VZAccess Manager software with the device connected via USB. I’m on Mac OS X 10.6.2, which should not need that software (according to them). I demonstrate that an Internet connection doesn’t work when connected to the MiFi2200 via WiFi.
  2. The dialing profile is never saved in Network preferences, nor is the WWAN connection option ever available in the OS X menu bar (despite being checked off again and again).
  3. I can’t ever access the MiFi2200 admin page, no matter how I try to connect to it – via USB or WiFi.

I have a feeling that it’s a bad piece of hardware, but no telling how Verizon will respond further to my support request. I have an official thread open with them, but they’re suggesting I call them – which would be an exercise in lunacy. I clearly demonstrated the problems I’m having, and really don’t care to waste any more time on it.

They responded a second time, asking me to perform more troubleshooting steps – which I did:

Let the buyer beware: the Verizon MiFi 2200 has completely failed to impress on the Mac.

The Go-To Guy

Even those of us who are power users or experts with technology need help sometimes. None of us can possibly know everything there is to know. Who do you go to when you get stuck and need an answer, or an extra set of eyes? Who can you call up to pick their brains, hopefully helping to solve your problem? I’m lucky to have a good network of friends that I know I can turn to, depending on what the problem is I’m facing. Being a Geek (and a guy!) – I admit I have a hard time reaching out and asking for help. I tend to research and fiddle, trying to fix whatever it is myself. But sometimes, you just have to wave that white flag and say “Help me!!”. So – who can you count on to give you those answers? Have you ever thanked them for taking the time out of their day to patiently help you? Make sure you do!

So much is going on around here right now. Gnomedex is only a week away, and the team is all very excited. We have an excellent lineup of presenters this year, many fun and exciting things going on in the hallways and in the evenings. I know we’re going to have a fabulous time – but not without a few more days of all of us running around like crazy. To all my volunteers and helpers… bless you, every one. No way would this ever be happening without you all!

Even amidst the hectic days right now, I still make time to check up on all of you. I love reading what you’re up to and what’s on your minds. I hope you make time in your day to do the same.