My Next Phone Is?

My phone contract is coming up this month. It’s time to think about the next phone. There are many choices to consider. There is Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus along with its Apple Pay. Then there’s the new Google’s Nexus 6 and the slightly older Nexus 5 model from last year. One thing I am seriously considering is lowering my monthly payments to affordable levels. I’m targeting perhaps around $50 for monthly payments. The only way I can achieve this is to purchase an unlocked phone to go along with T-Mobile’s prepaid plans. So, the iPhone 6 is definitely out of the question. The Nexus 6 is very tempting, but the price tag of $650 is both disappointing and discouraging. So, that leaves me with last year’s Nexus 5. An unlocked Nexus sells for $399. This might be my next phone. I’m still looking around for other options. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

Google Reinvents the Inbox

Email has been around for a long time. It predates the Internet. Google is tweaking how email is displayed to users by adding features which makes it easier to get to the important data. Several months ago, Google added tabs to differentiate social updates and promotions from regular email. With Inbox, Google is adding Bundles, a feature that will group together similar messages, like bank statements and receipts for example. Another feature is called Highlights, which places important emails to the front and center. Inbox also has Reminders, Assists and Snooze. Reminders are pretty much self explanatory. Assists work with reminders to bring out relevant information. Snooze dismisses information in the background. Google Inbox is not available yet to all. You can ask for an invite by sending an email to inbox@gmail.com.

HP Splitting in Two Companies

HP plans to split its PC and printer businesses into two separate companies. Splitting up a company is nothing new to Silicon Valley. Recently, eBay spun off Paypal. A few years ago, IBM spun off Lenovo, and 3Com spun off Palm. Even HP itself, is a by-product of the HP and Agilent split years ago. Will we see Oracle and possibly Microsoft splitting up its core businesses? It’s difficult to imagine that such a thing can happen, but nothing is guaranteed in the tech industry. Companies have to compete and survive, and they will do anything necessary to generate profits. The bottom line is, companies still need to make a quality product or service that people want. Splitting companies is just an adjustment or strategy to that end.

How I Became a Mac OS user

Years ago, I got tired of Windows for numerous reasons which I don’t have the time to elaborate in this post. Eventually, I switched to Linux. It was new, exciting, and the opportunity to learn something entirely different was fascinating to me. When Ubuntu Dapper Drake came along, I went all in. That was my desktop of choice for a very long time.

After each Ubuntu release, I worked hard to get everything working from the flash player, media, and just about every tool that I needed, just to get the desktop to function the way I wanted to. After several years of Ubuntu updates and fixing the desktop, I got tired of it. It was an exercise I really didn’t want to do every six months.

I switched to the Mac OS because it it’s based on BSD, a Unix variant, which is familiar to me. In some ways, I can get still get down and dirty using the Terminal if I wanted to. The Mac OS for the most part, is a very stable environment. And everything worked at get-go. I’ve been a Mac OS user ever since.

Goodbye to Lotus 1-2-3

I can’t believe Lotus 1-2-3 has been around for 30 years. Support has ended September 30. I learned how to use spreadsheets using Lotus 1-2-3. Using floppy drives, too. Good times. Think of all the formulas and macros you’ve created. Clearly, Lotus 1-2-3’s time has come and gone. It’s a remarkable success story. This has to be one of the most successful software ever written. In the first year, Lotus expected to sell about $1 million. It sold $54 million.

Vending Machines with WiFi

BT Global Services and Coke are partnering to provide WiFi access on vending machines in rural parts of South Africa. Locals will be able to check their emails while being refreshed by Coke. Novel idea. Does it mean that “water cooler” talk will be replaced by “vending machine” talk? Probably not. I see a potential business here for others to provide an internet vending machine for tourists stuck in remote tourist spots.

Yahoo Mail is Down

Yahoo Mail is down. Again. It doesn’t happen often, but it does go down every once in a while. My experience with Yahoo Mail hasn’t been good. The mail interface is quite problematic. I often had to refresh the Yahoo Mail page every time it becomes unresponsive. I think it’s time to think about using another email service. Either start using a free service like GMail or perhaps running your own personal server. I’m leaning more towards running my own email server.

Online Purchases Will Only Increase

Online purchases are going to increase tremendously in the next few years as access to the web becomes ubiquitous via smartphones, tablets and traditional desktop systems. Recent demographic studies show that online purchases is not for Generation Xers only. It’s also popular among middle-age groups, the 35 to 45 and 45 to 55 year old groups.

When we think of e-commerce, we often associate it with the largest online retailers like Amazon, eBay and Alibaba. These are companies that primarily sell online goods and services over the internet and via the browser. The online shops are often called e-shop, e-store, web-shop, web-store, online store, online storefront, or virtual store.

While Amazon tend to sell everything, others online stores such as Home Depot, Best Buy, Frys, Bed Bath and Beyond are much more specialized. Home Depot sells things you normally find in a hardware store. Frys and Best Buy sells electronics. Meanwhile, Bed Bath and Beyond sells only household items.

If that wasn’t specialized enough, you’ll find just about anything you want online. If you want kites, there’s Into The Wind. If you want costumes, there’s Pure Costumes. If you want jewelry, Fusion Beads has quite a variety of beads online.

The shopping workflow typically starts with consumers browsing the virtual storefront. They see a product that they want, and they add it to their online shopping cart. The shopping carts are usually powered by some shopping cart software installed in the storefront. Once the consumer is done shopping, the checkout process can then begin. Products are sometimes shipped for free, or for a nominal or standard fixed fee.

Online shoppers usually pay via credit card or a Paypal account. Others stores also accept more traditional types of payment methods such as checks, money orders, cash on delivery or COD, debit cards, even Bitcoins.

One of the advantages of shopping online is convenience. It’s perfect for buying products that you’re already familiar with, and you’re comfortable with, ordering it online with actually seeing it or trying it out. Another advantage is online reviews. You can read about a product and how it’s rated by others who’ve purchased it. Another advantage is price. Sometimes online prices are cheaper, plus most of the times there are no sales taxes to deal with.

There are disadvantages as well. Make sure you’re shopping with a reputable store. Make sure the online stores are practicing safe and secure policies.

Online purchases are only going to accelerate in the future, as better methods and ways to shop online will become a reality.

Purge Bloated Phone Apps

My two year commitment on phone is coming up in November. I’m about due for a phone upgrade. Six months ago, my phone started slowing down to a crawl. Not only that, I started exceeding my 300Mb limit. The extra fees was enough motivation for me to start uninstalling apps that were taking up CPU time and using large amounts of data. After purging the phone from the bloated apps, the phone went back to its old self. Lessons learned. Pay attention as to which app takes up CPU and data usage. Chances are, some of these apps can be accessed from your mobile browser.