Category Archives: gadgets

Got new windshield wiper, tires

Last wed. morning,  temperature was below freeze point, there were some leftover snow. When I start my car, windshield wiper blade broke. So early afternoon I bought a new set and tried to replace the wiper. Those were worn out before last wed. The problem for me is, I don’t know how to take the old set off the Camry. Even after I watched YouTube video, I still did not know. So I went back autozone and asked for help. 

This is minor compared to the tire pressure problem for my wife’s sienna minivan. She texted me this picture, I know I know it’s tire pressure warning. I went through the same exercise last winter, even pumped couple times on sienna. And I left some damage on the sensor by doing that too :-(. And this time I am paying it back. The warning went away and came back last few weeks, even after I pumped air. So I thought to make sure, using a meter to measure the pressure. And I blew this one. When trying to measure the front driver side tire, the one has some sensor demage, that thing came out, and air came out. Flat tire :-(. This is not new but not often encountered, so I follow the procedures: use jack to get the van up, trying to locate the spare tire. Since it’s hard for me to get out the jack from sienna, I used the one from Camry. It’s not as strong, and I made couple mistakes the jack fell twice. But I still could not figure out where is the spare tire, even after reading manual. So I called AAA. A technician from AAA helped me on this issue. Today I went to Costco in the afternoon and got a new sets of tires on. It cost me about $770 for 4 Michelin tires. I still need to figure out how to put the spare back to its original place. 

 

My lesson learned:

1) It’s fortunate that we did not got hurt with this potential tire sensor problem. 

2) It’s ok to buy certified used (sienna), but it’s not necessary to buy extended warranty, put the money in bank for repairs and maintenance instead (the squirrel problem and the new tires).

3) Use Costco tire service, they seems have the best service plan for the $15 installation fee.

4) It’s kinda ironic I majored in ME in college and grad school. And I cannot figure out windshield wiper and spare tire. 

How I unlocked t-mobile iPhone 5s and transfer to H2O wireless

I have thought about this for a while, especially after hearing about republic wireless $25 month plan from my friend Luke and H2O wireless (thanks to mitbbs penny savers forum). Previously I only heard about the StraightTalk $50 plan ($45 now, it appears T-mobile also dropped its $50 plan to $40). A little background, I had an iPhone 5s for t-mobile, full price bought from Apple store in Oct/Nov 2013. I only used it for T-mobile prepaid legacy plan, which means “pay as you go”, 10 cents a min for phone call, and 10 cents per text message. I like to have the 3G data, like I had before from AT&T. Here are the steps I followed:

1) Unlock the iPhone 5s. Although I paid the full price, by default the phone is still locked to t-mobile network. The quickest way is to chat with t-mobile, which I did. Actually I did twice, because the first time they did not do the job. The second time they sent me notification saying my phone is unlocked.

2) Get a sim card for H2O wireless from Amazon. I made a mistake again. Without much thought I got this micro sim card first, and I quickly realized iPhone 5s needs nano sim.
h2o_wireless_sim
3) Last but not least, when my t-mobile prepaid balance came very low, and when it’s weekend (not critical time), I started transfer. I did online on h2o wireless website first. Haven’t seen the number transferred after a bit over a day. So I called. One problem is since my t-mobile is prepaid legacy plan, there is no account number. And I did not give correct pin per H2O rep. Got it solved. The next thing they asked me to install couple profiles for internet (because I want data plan). Then talk to the billing department setting up monthly pay, they gave me 10% off for setting up month bill auto pay via credit card, make the final bill $27. Note H2O actually uses AT&T network, and the data usage is available in real time from “Cellular” setting of the phone.

(update) The main reason I ditched T-mobile is its poor coverage. Sometimes I don’t get signal in the condo neighborhood. The wifi-call feature helped out a bit by tapping into the Wifi network, but it has two drawbacks: 1) It still uses the regular minutes; 2) When at work and I walk around, as the Wifi hot spots changes, the phone will disconnect or lose signal.

Also, how to setup Internet and LTE for H2O. The operator texted me two links. Install the first profile for initial Internet setup. The second one was sent via Dropbox link. No need to install Dropbox app, just tap top right, “direct save”, and install. It will complain about the first profile just installed. Go ahead and remove that one, the second one should install. This is not very intuitive as I did not hear instructions clearly from the operator, nor did I bother to look up their website for FAQ. From my own experience, the first one is probably just for verification or something. Also the operator asked if I want multimedia message, I said no because she mentioned I need to install some “jailbreak” app or something.

Also, I heard from my other friend, if one is really budget conscious, Ting is also a good choice, they use both Sprint and T-mobile network.

My first week impression of iPhone 4

Graphics is very sharp
This can be demonstrated by the Netflix app. I installed it the first night right after I got home. Watched a movie, the graphics quality is very very good.

Installed apps
Besides Netflix and other usual stuff (google, twitter, facebook, linkedIn), I also installed NFL Score, Public Radio Tuner (a bit disappointed on this one, not multitasking enabled, so I can not read email and listen to the radio at the same time), Yahoo, iBooks, myWireless (AT&T), WSJ and VTT (Virtual Table Tennis) Lite.

fstream: this little program allows me to listen to Chinese radios via Stream, and it is multitasking enabled (can run in background). The only caveat is it eats the data limit in 2gb data plan fast, more later.

Weakness
Battery: per Apple iPhone battery page
“iPhone 4 offers up to 7 hours of talk time on 3G, 14 hours of talk time on 2G, 6 hours of Internet use on 3G, 10 hours of Internet use on Wi-Fi, 10 hours of video playback, or 40 hours of audio playback on a full charge at original capacity. In addition, iPhone 4 features up to 300 hours of standby time.”

This is about right, as I had to charge my iPhone 4 in the afternoon couple times (early in the week) as I was listening to the Internet radio.

So so speaker-phone? I had this feeling when I talked to my friend this evening.

AT&T Data plan
I picked the common 2gb plan. 2gb is a bit tight for me, I used 425 mega bytes as of day 3. Why? Because I was using this fstream app listening to Chinese radio stations. It’s cool, but it’s also a data hogger: for 64 k per second stream, it’s using about 25 mb in one hour per SuperUser. For the time being, I am using the following approach to relieve the data usage.

Continue reading

Bought iPhone 4 today

I bought my long anticipated iPhone 4 today, at local Apple store. The buying process is fairly straight forward, because I switched from T-mobile (have been with them for almost 6 years!), I need to bring the account number because I was going to port the number. The Apple sales rep used an iPhone app for the whole process, from input the data, to slide my credit card. Obviously his iPhone has card reader.

Why I bought iPhone 4?
I was a bit late to the iPhone revolution. I was not a believer at the beginning (Summer 2007, see my post iParty). But slowly I realized this iPhone app thing is going to be big, that’s why I bought iPhone 3g (refurb) at Dec 2008, and bought macbook in Jan 2009, starting learning iPhone app dev (I was working on CFA level one in year 2008). This year the No. 1 priority is our new baby. Yesterday (Sept 17, 2010) my first iPhone app myNestEgg ~ the retirement calculator was approved in iTune store. I certainly hope that’s just a beginning of my iPhone app development. Besides using for app dev, I think the new iPhone photo and video capability will be handy to record the growth of our baby.

The apps I am going to get
I was using my wife’s 3g (iOS 3.1.2) before getting iPhone 4. One app I plan to install is Netflix viewer (it requires iOS 3.1.3 or later). I already installed Public Radio Player app (I was using Nokia 5800 before iPhone 4, and I am a big NPR fan).

Odds and Ends
Free case: everyone knows the iPhone 4 antenna gate, and thus the iPhone 4 case program. Guess what, there is an app for that. After looking for “free case reviews”appadvice; macWorld; iLounge on the web, I decided to go with the flow: the Speck PixelSkin HD.

AT&T, T-mobile: I have been with T-mobile for almost 6 years, and for most part I am happy with them. Interestingly, I was AT&T (Cingular) before switching to T-mobile, now I am back. I am not too worried about the signal strength of AT&T amid all the stories about AT&T dropping calls.

No more fights on iPhone: my wife joked I will no longer fight for her iPhone as I got my own. I told her mine got Netflix, and now she is going to fight for mine 😀

The missing iPhone

By now all the people who are into gadgets should have heard about this iPhone Gizmodo gate: this is apple’s next iPhone .

I don’t know about the fate of this Apple engineer, as Gizmodo did not say a word about him/her (Why Apple Couldn’t Get the Lost iPhone Back). I hope he/she won’t get fired for this (assume this whole thing is not an Apple stunt). Because a while ago, if we recall, a young Chinese engineer died from iPhone leak(HuffingtonPost: Sun Danyong, Chinese Engineer, Kills Himself After Losing ‘4G’ iPhone Prototype).

After all, life is much more important than stupid iPhone, if we can put things in perspective.

Is PALM here to stay: II

I sold my few shares of Palm Friday morning shortly after opening. Palm (Nasdaq:PALM) share dropped 29% on Friday after horrific earning outlook (marketWatch). Palm is increasingly likely to say “bye bye” to its loyal customers in a year or two. Quote sobelmedia:

======
I’m never going to forget my very first Palm Pilot in 1998…how cool…it was everything I needed and wanted in a handheld device…addresses, notes, contacts everything…and it had the ability to sync with my computer to keep it up to date. Over the years the company changed owners, management, operating systems and the competition heated up all at the same time. Now it appears as though Palm is at the end of the rope and Wall Street is ready to say goodbye.
======

I think PALM has to blame itself for the recent problem (since webOS based Palm Pre launch at Sprint network last July). I saw the following problems:

Continue reading

Palm Pre First Impression

Got opportunity to play with Palm Pre for couple minutes in the weekend. Sprint kiosk at Chesterfield Mall has the real Pre (instead of the faked phones at many other places). I was very impressed by the screen, both the (multi) touch and the display. Surfed the web: amazon, ESPN etc. Zooming in and out is very similar to iPhone (using two fingers). Checked out the tiny keyboard, it feels OK. Initially I thought it’s not “qwerty” keyboard, I was wrong: it was just different from the keyboard of my Blackberry 8800, as you can see from this picture at PreCentral: .

Continue reading