Eating My Words


When we signed our contract with Big Cell Phone Company (AT&T), something I thought I’d never do again, I remember the salesperson asking if we wanted to buy insurance for our phones.

My reply was simple: “Nah, I’ve had good luck with phones and never had to replace one. No thanks.”

Besides, my Samsung Galaxy S4 Active was designed to be impervious to elements such as water and dust and I didn’t figure that I’d be exposing it to much of those anyway, so what were the chances of having the phone damaged in any other way? Right? Well, today I found out.

On this, the eve of a busy weekend of Kids Fun Runs and my fifth bike tour and second duathlon, I am eating my words in regards to not opting for insurance. This morning I was trying to calibrate the speed on my bike’s computer by comparing it to a speedometer app on my phone. All was going well until, somehow or another, the phone slipped out of my hand and onto the asphalt.

There was this awful *KA-CHUNK* sound as it made contact.

At that point I didn’t care about the calibration. I hit the brakes and turned around to find the phone lying face-down in the street and my only thought was, “Oh shit. I hope the screen isn’t broken.”

I picked it up, flipped it over, and found this staring back at me.

IMG_20141010_082710

One tumble from around 3 feet at a speed of 5 MPH has turned the screen into what looks like a window of an abandoned restaurant somewhere in the middle of the Mojave Desert that had been shot at repeatedly by a CO2 pistol. I mean, look at that. It’s pretty effed up.

I picked it up and as any normal 40-something male would do when their expensive gadget malfunctioned or was severely damaged, I bawled like a baby.

(Okay, maybe not that bad. But I was pretty upset and honestly, still am. I’m using this blog post as an outlet.)

And naturally, because I have no insurance on the thing*, I’m willing to bet that there isn’t much that AT&T would be willing to do to make things right so I’m not even going to bother to call them on it. It fell, it broke. It was an accident and that’s all there was to it.

With that being the case I decided to look into having the screen repaired locally, and the quote from the first and only company I contacted was for $180 plus tax. Here’s my issue with that.

I’m on the Next Plan with AT&T, a plan that includes a $20 extra monthly charge that is applied toward your future upgrade. At this point in our contract, I would have to pay $250 (the remaining balance over our contract) in order to upgrade to a new phone so even if I had the money to do so (which I don’t), there’s no way I’d spend $180 to get the thing fixed when for a mere $70 more I can just get a brand new phone.

In the meantime, I’m trying to adopt to my new spider-webby screen which meant running down to my favorite Japanese store for a generic screen cover so that I wouldn’t get any glass shards in my fingertips as I use the thing. I’m sure the screen will continue to crack as days go by so the cover will also keep things in place.

As for the phone’s look, I can pretend the cracks are part of a really cool, live 3D wallpaper – until it’s time to read a text. The top of the screen is pretty much useless with those huge cracks, and that means posting things to social media is going to be a real pain. Facebook is difficult, Instagram is impossible, and I’m sure I’ll find out as time goes by which other apps have been killed as the result of this little incident.

And if there is anything good about this, it’s that the front-facing camera lens narrowly escaped having the crack go over it. Because, you know…selfies.

I take a lot of pictures with my phone at all of my events and I had planned on doing it again this weekend. I’m positive I’ll still do that, but when I ask someone to take one for me, I’m going to look like…you know, one of those guys with the cracked phone screen that makes you say, “How do you use that? Man, why don’t you just get a new phone?”

If only it were that simple.

So this year, my laptop took a dump and I busted my phone. Not fun.

But on the plus side, I did buy a PowerBall ticket for this Saturday…

 

*No insurance that I’m aware of. Maybe I should call.
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2013: My Year In Review


Since this is a personal blog, I figured that instead of writing a year-end review about other things, it would be better suited for me to give a year-end review of things that actually happened in my life. It’s much easier to do something like this now since chances are I captured those moments with my phone, giving me photographic proof of the events.

With all of that out of the way, here’s a month-by-month photo essay of how things went with me and the family in 2013, some of which was never mentioned here on the blog. Take a virtual trip of the things we did, places we saw, events that brought us happiness, triumph, and even sadness.

Got your scrollin’ finger ready? Good! Here we go!

Continue reading

The New Computer


I’m writing a second post tonight because I’m in the mood. It’s a fantastically cool evening and I’ve got the patio doors open as well as the one behind me, letting a nice breeze come rolling through.

So anyway, you might recall a post I wrote over a year ago about my being involved in a class action lawsuit that might yield me more than just a free month of service to [insert defendant here] or a measly five bucks. No, this class action lawsuit appeared to be much more fruitful which kind of made me a bit skeptical about the whole thing.

But as you will read in this post, it was anything but a scam.

About a few weeks ago, I received a letter from Lawsuit HQ informing me that a settlement had been reached and that I still had the option to take the $62.50 cash or redeem the voucher code on the letter at a certain website to get a brand-spanking-factory-refurbished item of my choice (up to $365 retail value): laptop, desktop, tablet, or monitor.

And being our computer had trouble mixing the ingredients and adding sugar while waiting for Candy Crush Saga to load, we opted for the computer.

Then the fun began.

The selection on that website is horrible to say the least. I literally spent hours at a time at the computer F5ing as often as possible in the hopes they’d get something better. Then one day, after refreshing umpteen times, one showed up that was most excellent. I added it to my cart and started the checkout process.

The item disappeared as I was at the last checkout step and I got a warning that the item was no longer available. Wait, how does that happen? Did someone really snag that thing out of my virtual cart and put it into theirs?

Grrr. It was gone and the mediocre selection of AMD-powered PCs returned but I didn’t want any of those. I wanted an Intel chip, more memory, and a bigger hard drive. The rest would be details.

So I spent another day – it’s a good thing I’m not working – hitting F5 and hoping for the best and once again, a decent model showed up. This time I ran with it like O.J. Simpson through an airport terminal getting to his Hertz Rent-A-Car.*

And it was mine – free of charge, no less.

free

Then a couple of days ago, it arrived and I was so happy.

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That’s the new beast in all its refurbished glory. Can’t you just hear the angels and harps? But along with the euphoria I felt with opening the UPS-delivered box I also came to the realization all new computer owners face: setup and transferring.

But being I’m constantly backing up my stuff** to a 2TB external drive as well as Dropbox and MegaCloud, transferring this time around wasn’t that much of a task. Once I installed Dropbox and MegaCloud, all of the files uploaded to those respective clouds downloaded to the new computer. Boom. Done. Like nothing happened.

Then a few essential things had to be installed: Chrome, Photoshop, Office, iTunes, etc. Of course, along with installing came the removing of bloatware (surprisingly, not a lot).

I wasn’t too concerned about pictures yet since they are on the external drive as well as the old PC, but music was another issue. Today I was finally daring enough to transfer the folder on the external drive called Music and along with that came duplicate and sometimes triplicate mp3 files. There was a total of 70GB worth of music including 20GB of duplicate files which I deleted today, and I know there’s more.

Along with this “new” computer being fast (it would never give you an indication it was refurbished), it came equipped with Windows 8 which I was not fond of at first but am growing to really enjoy. On the surface (see what I did there?) you can tell that it’s strictly an OS designed to be touched but Microsoft did a good job in transitioning Windows 8 into a PC format OS that works almost flawlessly. It takes some time getting used to how it works but it functions amazingly well.

As for specs, here’s what’s under the hood.

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As you can see it’s got a whopping 1TB hard drive so between that and the 2TB external drive, I’ve got more storage than I know what to do with. I kind of like that feeling.

For now, I’m pretty much done with the basic setting up of the computer. I’ve got enough of my most frequently used programs on there to do whatever I need to do and then some. I know there will be more stuff down the road but for the moment, I’m very satisfied with its performance.

And all of this for free because of a faulty floppy disk drive that the computer I owned well over 10 years ago didn’t even have.

Not too shabby. I’d say I made out alright with this deal.

*For you younger folks
**It’s a terrible habit, I know

Right Up My Alley


I got this Captcha-style image the other day and thought my answer was the only logical choice.

cheese fries2

Blogging 365, Day 73: Google Reader Is Dead


There are a lot of Google services that my life has been perfectly fine without, some dead and some still living for whatever reason.

Google Wave was one of them and something that I (and a lot of other people) could never quite figure out. Much too complicated for something that was supposed to be a collaboration tool.

Then there’s Google+. I have a profile there but rarely check it. I may post something on there now and then but other than that, it’s completely useless to me and I find it hard to believe it has as many users Google claims it does. As per Wikipedia:

As of December 2012, it has a total of 500 million registered users of whom 235 million are active on a monthly basis

Meh. I still think it sucks.

I did, however, enjoy iGoogle which offered widgets to things like Gmail, Google Calendar, etc. I had it as my homepage for a years – until Google decided it would die on November 1, 2013.

One widget that I used all the time was for Google Reader which is where I keep all of my RSS feeds nice and tidy. All of the blogs I’m subscribed to, news feeds, etc. are all in there because it’s so darn easy.

Then today, I got this message when I logged in:

reader

Damn you, Google. Aside from Gmail, Reader is the only other service of yours I actually use and enjoy. Now I’ve got to go and find another way to get all of my news feeds. And so far, I’ve tried most of them and none of them have worked very well nor are free.

Thanks, guys. Maybe it’s just a ploy to get me to use Google+.

Nice try. But it’s not happening.