cell phone plan switcheroo, part 2

Here’s a triumphant update to the last post on switching cell phone carriers.  It’s been a long road, but we finally got there.  As of now, we are now truly paying $80 per month for two cell phones (with about $10 tacked on for taxes).

If you too want to try to make the switch, here are a few things I learned that might help you too.

Getting approval for unlocking from AT&T can be tricky.  I got approval right away for the main phone line.  For the second phone (mine), it was considerably harder.  After about a half dozen phone calls to support, we finally got it.  Make certain that if you have multiple lines, that all IMEI numbers are “attached to the account” (whatever that actually means is anyone’s guess). This bit is for iPhones owners.  To properly unlock the phone from AT&T, follow their instructions to the letter; don’t cheat like I did and restore a backup of the phone.  The iPhone will still be locked!  Instead, you must restore first.  Then restore your recent backup.  You can’t just skip the blank restore directly to backup. After you pay your last remaining balance, don’t forget to request approval for refunding your deposit (if you had to prepay one month).  For us, this was about 7 years ago; but hey, it’s worth getting back every penny you’ve loaned to a multi-billion dollar company!

The only remaining uncertainty is coverage area comparison.  It’s still too soon to tell, but so far the data coverage quality is much better in my experience.  At my office, I have far better 3G data connection. We also have excellent voice coverage in our house.

⇥ (read more)

The hunt for the perfect cell phone plan

I am nothing, if not occasionally obsessive.  I get fixated with certain projects, plans, or life goals  Well lately (as in the last 6-9 months), I’ve been rather preoccupied with finding the perfect, affordable cell phone plan.

The last time I was this worked up about hacking my status as a cell phone user, it was all about the iPhone.  This time, it isn’t the hardware, it’s the carrier.

⇥ (read more)

Function pointers

Here’s a great quote by John Bass on an EDN article about function pointers as an implementation of state machine design:

Failure complexity is a metric of a design.


IKEA kitchen light mod, part 2

A while ago, I modified my daughter’s little kid kitchen.  In that project, I found my design self teetering on that edge between two goals: get-it-done on the one side, do-it-right on the other.  I had chosen the former and even my 2 year old (at the time) could see that this was a critical design mistake.

As a quick refresher, I had thought Those Thoughts.  “Wouldn’t it be cool if her cute little IKEA oven had a light that turned on when the cute little door was opened?”  Well, yes, but perhaps it would have also been cool if I’d considered the very likely fault condition wherein my toddler would leave the door open.  Toddlers do that.

⇥ (read more)

AC multi-way light switch

My garage has a single light switch in it for its overhead fluorescent lights. This light switch is not conveniently located; it is situated beyond our freezer, such that one has to walk into the darkened garage in order to turn the switch on. So I made an electronic 3-way switch. “Why?”, you ask. Indeed. My reasons are always convoluted and sometimes irrational. Best not to ask such questions.

But if you must know, our garage is mostly finished with drywall, so adding a second “3-way” switch would have been difficult. I opted for an electronic switching circuit.

⇥ (read more)

The long happy life of a coyote survivor

“Daddy, Ebenezer not sick anymore?”  “No sweetie, he isn’t sick anymore.”

Ebenezer was more than just a pet cat.  He was a symbol of my developing adult life.  I got Ebenezer when I lived in Dallas.  My Aunt Debbie and Uncle Rick knew of a neighbor who had a new litter of kittens.  They knew just the animal lover that would make a good fit for one of them.  I was a sucker for the little orange tom’s spunk and loud caterwauling.

That first week was a trying one, as all young animals prove to be to their human caretakers.  One evening after work, he had managed to get himself completely wrapped up in small gauge solid-strand antenna wire.  As I was carefully cutting him free of the snare, unwrapping the wire from his throat and body, I knew then that I loved him.  I knew that he depended on me for his life and happiness.  And I was glad then that I had this little creature to care for.  It felt good to give joy, as well as shelter and sustenance.

⇥ (read more)

The Cabin In The Woods

Major Spoilers

Before I begin, note that every word following this is considered a major spoiler for the film.

So, what would happen if you threw Men In Black, Cube, Hellraiser, and most every scary-secluded-cabin-for-teenagers movie in a blender?  The Cabin In The Woods would happen.

This is the film from 2012 from Avengers wonder-boy Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard.  I loved this movie.  It turns the genre (if you can pick just one) on its head. I loved that — despite it not taking itself too seriously, despite it having a good sense of humor — it painted a deep mythology.  I loved that it dared to explain not only why we love monster, ghost, and zombie movies, but also where these creatures all come from and what their purpose is.

⇥ (read more)

Surround Sound Debug

For some reason, this keeps happening to me. I must be doing it wrong. But I’ve either been too stubborn or too distracted to find the better way to do it.

I’ve installed surround sound wiring into my abodes at least five times (twice in my bachelor days at two different apartments, and thrice in my married days in all three of Sarah’s and my mutual houses. So I have a fair amount of experience with fishing wires down walls and into ceiling joists, cutting in low-voltage single-gang electrical boxes, and wiring up multi-channel audio speakers.

⇥ (read more)