Comparing Unlimited Plans from T-Mobile, Sprint Verizon and AT&T

With the emergence of unlimited phone and data plans from the carriers recently, it would be a task to compare the cost and features of each carrier. Well, someone has done that for us. If you are even remotely considering changing carriers, read the following article:

Of course, first, you would want to be sure you have a strong signal in your home area. Plus, if you travel around a lot, another important consideration is the carrier's coverage around the country. We have AT&T, and not only is it the most expensive carrier, the mobile hotspot can only be used for the device itself -- another device cannot connect to the hotspot. That would be a major issue for us if we did not already have unlimited data plans for our devices.

Jim Hamm


How Would Apple Streaming TV Work?

        OK, bright and knowledgeable PMUG members and friends:  how would this work?    David Passell writes, "On the recent evening news there was the statement that Apple's proposed streaming TV that included local channels (except NBC) would let you 'cut the cable' and free you from those expenses (by implication that exploit you). 
        He explains, "I have Cable One that brings in my internet and has my email server. I also maintain my 'northlink' email addresses via a nominal monthly charge. I also have a magic jack that provides me with unlimited national phone service. Here I could 'cut the cable' to my landline phone number, or I could let the landline bring in my internet via DSL and eliminate Cable One.  
        "BUT: How would I 'cut the cable' and use the touted Apple Streaming without the above internet interface that my router provides (from cable or DSL) in my home environment? In a big city where there are WiFi hot spots, that might work. (e.g. if i lived near the library or downtown).
        "Besides, Apple would also have a monthly fee not quite as high."
        So, here's the biggie:  "Can somebody explain the magic?"

Satisfied with Your Cable Company, etc.?

        David Passell's sharp eye for interesting info found this and he writes, "I was not aware that so many people 'hate' their cable company. How about (is it associated with any listed in their table?  
        "NOTE: I thought CenturyLink was my landline telephone service which also provides Internet (speed 'up to' 10 MB. around 1 where I live, I am told). My personal feeling is until internet content delivery is not dependent on a two-way interchange of information (unlike off-air TV, satellite, and radio) between server and client there will always be a problem. The people who make money would not be happy with a different arrangement:(."
        Here's one article:
        Here's the American Customer Satisfaction Index, ACSI, dated May 2013.
Apple leads the cellular telephone score from ACSI, shown on page 13.  A graph of customer satisfaction by industry is shown on page 17. 

FREE Gmail Phone Calls

       In case you didn't see this, Jim Hamm wants you to see that word FREE.  "If you have a Gmail email account, you can make free domestic calls  to mobile and landline numbers — at least through the end of 2013. Here is an article with further details. The person you're calling does not have to have a Gmail account — you're just dialing their regular phone number through Gmail on your end.  
        "If you don't have a Gmail account, it's easy to get one, and it's free. Click here to sign up."

Sending iCal Reminders to Your Smart Phone

        Both Jim Hamm and John Carter have some useful info.  Jim starts with, "If you've already subscribed to text messaging from AT&T (or Verizon) and use iCal as a day timer for appointments, etc., you might take a read on this article. You can set iCal to send a text message to your phone to alert you for an appointment. A pretty slick idea if I don't say so."
        Jim continues, "I ran into a slight problem in going through the instructions: I couldn't identify what an 'ME' card is in my Address Book as the article describes. When I clicked 'Card' in the menu bar the dialog box showed 'Go to my Card' as grayed out and not clickable. Apparently I don't have an 'ME' card. Any suggestions here appreciated."
        John jumps in here, "A 'ME' card is your personal vcard in the address book (as in 'this is ME'). If you don’t have one, create one. Follow the instructions from this website to find out all about a ME card and how to create one."

Free Phone Calls

        Free!  Did that get your attention?  Jim Hamm explains, "I sent out an email some time ago on this subject, but I was just helping a friend get started with Google's call phone service so I thought I'd send this info out again in case you'd want to try it.
        "If you have a Google Gmail email account (it is free if you want to get one) you can call, for free, people anywhere in the U.S. using Google's Call Phone service. Here is the link to more information.
        "This can save you money by not paying for long distance calls on your house phone or save you minutes on the use of your cell phone. Voice clarity is as good as talking on a regular phone or cell phone. You just log into your Gmail account, click the 'Call Phone' link on the lower left side of the screen. A dial pad opens, and you use the cursor to enter the phone number and then click call. Also, a plugin is available for download if you would want to video chat as well. International calls can be made as well, but for a fee.
        "If you or someone in your family calls long distance a lot, this may be worth looking into. Actually, since it's free, there's no downside to giving it a try. Well, maybe one downside: the call shows as originating in California, not from your regular number."

Save on Phone Calls

The eagle eye of David Passell found this info on how to turn an iPod Touch into an iPhone in the New York Times.  Columnist David Pogue describes Line2,  a $1 iPhone app, and how to make calls indoors and in other corners of the world where AT&T signal doesn't reach, send unlimited texting, and save $30 or $40 a month off your AT&T bill.  Since the article's posting on September 30 Mr. Pogue has replied to 245 questions and comments from readers.

Free Phone Calls with Google

"Free!" This just in from our world-traveler, Jim Hamm.  "Here's an interesting article on a new feature Google is offering: free long distance phone calls in the U.S., and inexpensive phone calls overseas. I just tried it by calling, on my Mac, my two sisters in Ohio and it works great. The voice quality, both ways, was fine. All one needs is a Gmail account. When you're logged in to your account you'll see a new heading in the lower left corner called 'Call phone.' Click this and an on-screen keyboard pops up and you use the cursor to call a number. At this time it will show the call coming from a number in California, not your home phone number. Perhaps in the future Gmail may be able to show the call coming from your home phone number."

Have You Tried This?

Here are two articles with nifty ideas to save time, trouble, and money.
Ten Simple Google Search Tricks, find the details here.
1. Use the “site:” operator to limit searches to a particular site.
2. Use Google as a spelling aid.
3. Use Google as a calculator.
4. Find out what time it is anywhere in the world.
5. Get quick currency conversions.
6. Use the OR operator.
7. Exclude specific terms with the – operator.
8. Search for specific document types.
9. Search within numerical ranges using the .. operator.
10. Area code lookup.
Avoid a Large Phone Bill When Traveling, find the details here.
Get the right phone, Check data roaming plans, Consider SIM cards, Look at the VoIP Option, Don’t forget the old-fashioned calling card.

Phone Calls, Via Mac

        David Passell writes, "I recently bought a Magic Jack from CVS. It cost $39.00 (-$5.00 discount I  happened to have). In case you don't know, the Magic Jack is a USB drive containing software/hardware which allows an ordinary touch tone telephone, answering device, etc. to be connected to one end. It even provides a dial tone. The USB end plugs into your Mac or PC. After answering some questions, you receive a telephone number which allows you to make and receive calls free anywhere in the US and some International. In addition you get a free 411 site which allows you to find business, persons, etc. telephone numbers and other information. It also enables multi-call (voice) conferencing. The cost includes the one-year $19.00 service charge. This can be renewed every year."
        David goes on to say that they gave him a Payson exchange number, as no Prescott numbers were available yet. "I have mine connected to a Brother 1960C Printer/Fax/Answering machine. If you should call the number you will get my 'Brother Message Service' message.  Since the number is tied to the device, I can unplug it and connect it to any Intel computer with a high speed connection."
        Since David's first email he's written to add more,  "I have had some other responses. Roger Lakner says he has one with a Prescott local number; don't know how he got it. He points out that it is useful when traveling. He also says that it will work on Windows PCs (their packaging says XP, Vista, or 7). For Macs it is limited to Intel machines. John Carlton also had one some time ago but didn't find it satisfactory. Bobbie asked me if my number is a toll call from Prescott. I think so."
        Perhaps David will demonstrate the Magic Jack at an up-coming meeting. . .