My Switch to T-Mobile. A few things you may want to know.

TMobileLogoWhite

 

I have been an AT&T customer for a long time.  A really long time.  Let me first say that my move to T-Mobile had nothing to do with a problem or deficiency with AT&T.  Loved them, still do.  Service was second to none.  Now thats out of the way lets move on.

The AT&T family plan that I was on was affordable but if I were to upgrade phones/devices then my plan pricing would have skyrocketed.  I have 7 lines on my plan and everything starts to add up.  I was sitting at about $255 month for AT&T but heres the thing.  For every phone I upgraded there would be an upgrade fee ($99, $150 or whatever) and then a monthly charge for that upgraded line of like $25 or $35 dollars per month.  I had four iPhone 4s’s, one iPhone 5C and two iPhone 5’s.  So upgrading all the devices would have added $200 per month or more.  Basically unless I purchased my phones outright then my plan pricing was going to be in the high $400’s at least.

I had always discounted T-Mobile.  I assumed it was a struggling 3rd place wanna be carrier that was using gimmicks to lure customers away from their current carriers.  The more I read about them the more I became intrigued.  T-Mobile in the last couple of years has been making a march on their service increasing speeds and overall coverage.  No they aren’t as good as AT&T or Verizon (yet) but keep reading before you judge.  I will give you the rundown in just a minute.

This all started because I wanted an iPhone 6 plus.  So I started crunching numbers.  Here is how T-Mobile is set up.  Family plan $100/month includes 4 phone lines at a level of 2.5gb of data per line for the first year.  Not sure what happens in year two.  Think data probably drops back to 1.0gb with the option to upgrade but the family plan price is guaranteed not to change.  Each line after the four comes at a $10/month additional charge.  The data is handled differently than Verizon and AT&T.  Its per line and not a family “bucket” of data.  There are both advantages and disadvantages to this.  Advantage, when I need more data I can pick the actual line that needs it.  Something very cool is that T-Mobile does not count music streaming as data usage so Spotify, Pandora, 8 tracks and quite a few other music streaming sites can run all day and not cost you data.  Another cool feature is that its teen proof in that if they run over their data limit T-Mobile doesn’t charge you more, they just throttle the data hungry user back to 3g speeds.  I think T-Mobile is also starting a data roll over program where your unused data from the month before gets pushed to the next month.  Cool!

Back to pricing… $100 for first four lines, $10 per for the next three lines (remember I have 7) so $130/month for 7 lines.  Each line has 2.5gb data and unlimited text and talk and free music channels for streaming.  Not too shabby.  Wait, I still have old phones!  Upgrading and purchasing phones is fairly cool as well at T-Mobile.  T-Mobile sells you the phone at full retail and takes the price and streams the amount into 24 equal, no interest payments over the next two years.  You pay zero down on certain versions of phones…IF…you have excellent credit.  I do, so no worries with this.  Its not zero down for every phone.  The more upgraded/features the phone has the more up front money they require but what ever you give them up front comes off the price of the phone and its payments.  You always get what you pay for.  Its fair.  After two years your phone is paid off, its yours and you can upgrade or buy another and sell your old one on eBay.  Nice thing is you don’t have to pay that upgrade fee like AT&T and then pay off the phone too!  The big boys are double dipping.  This chart shows the breakdown of the iPhone 6’s and the upfront and monthly fees.

Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 10.32.11 PM

 

Pricing…$100 first four lines, $30 for three more lines, I bought four iPhone 6’s and on one iPhone 6 plus so $140 per month for these.  I increased my personal data to 4.5gb  at $10 a month and picked up insurance on the iPhone 6 plus with early upgrade option for another $10 a month.  Grand total with tax I roll in at about $300 per month for seven lines and five have been upgraded.  I am only $45 dollars more than with AT&T.  Yes, its more but AT&T with the same phones…$480 or more.  They also offer some buy outs and trade ins for your various equipment and current service.  Don’t be fooled there will be some out of pocket expenses cleaning up your old phone account and getting things on track at T-Mobile but it will all come out in the wash in the end.

How is the service?  Pretty darn good.   Not bad at all.  I live in Northern Virginia outside of DC so I have very good coverage.  This is something you will want to be careful with.  If you live in a rural area and T-Mobile service is sketchy then stick with your current carrier.  I get 3-4 bars of 4G LTE in most places near me.  I even ran a few speed tests with my buddy and in some tests I bested his Verizon speeds.  When you get T-Mobile LTE its fast.  When you don’t, you just don’t.  I traveled from DC to North Carolina (rt-66 to rt-81- to rt-77) and two thirds of the trip I was without data.  I could always make a phone call but data was in and out.  One feature to note is that T-Mobile phones have the ability for wifi calling.  That means that if you’re in a location and you have wifi then you can make calls through the internet on the network.  This is good because lets say when you’re home your service is weak.  Well, in the house once wifi kicks on your phone you’re good to go.  I tested and converted only my personal line to T-Mobile for the first month.  I was able to test the service and fortunately it worked out.  I would suggest trying before buying to make sure you’re ok with the service before jumping in both feet.  I expect the service to only get better in the next two years.

Lets talk people.  Fairly impressed so far.  The retail staff seems very competent and the call in phone support is always very knowledgeable and courteous.  I had a problem finding an iPhone 6 plus and one of the support managers went out of his way to chase one down and called me back two hours after the call and let me know he overnighted the phone to me for FREE!  Two thumbs up for that kind of service.  Verizon isn’t even in the club.  Sorry, everyone knows its true.

I must say that so far I am fairly happy.  Out of 5 stars I would give T-Mobile a strong 4.0.  Pricing is great, service is great but I would take away 1 point just to be objective and say that the service when not LTE is not great and I had a tough time finding iPhones but that may totally have been an Apple issue and not T-Mobiles fault.  Give T-Mobile a look.  They might be a good choice for you.  Do your homework first but I can honestly say so far so good.

 

 

Nations Capital Cottage, Clifton VA

Check out our new airbnb cottage available for rent!  Don’t stay at a hotel or suites.  Stay in a real home!

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 7.48.52 AM

Nations Capital Cottage, Clifton VA in Clifton

House in Clifton, United States. This home is located in the heart of Northern Virginia. It is convenient to Dulles and Reagan National airports. In addition to the easy access to Washington DC there are many other sights to see in this area. This home will provide the comfort … View all listings in Clifton

Spilled Bleach…How to fix

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-laundry-bleach-image7310015

 

This is a little off my normal topic of cameras and gadgets but I thought this was interesting.  Yesterday, my wife purchased bleach at the store, dropped the container and cracked it.  She was unaware of the crack and placed the jug in my car.  It leaked all over and through my carpet.  Interestingly the carpet did not discolor (props to Ford).  Its a 2004 Ford f150 by the way.  But it did burn my nose hairs right out!  I thought it would be days before I could drive the car due to the smell.  After a little research I found out that peroxide is a neutralizer for bleach.  So I purchased a bottle of 3% peroxide at the store and poured it all over the spill location.  They recommend a 1:1 ratio for spill vs. neutralizer.  The oder immediately started to subside and this morning it seems all good.  Anyway…

Tip of the day.

 

CureFest 2014

Last weekend I went down to the National Mall in Washington DC to show support for an amazing girl who lives in my Neighborhood along with support for hundreds of other children with cancer.  She’s a really good friend to my children and we are very close to the whole family.  Childhood cancer is a really tragic disease…there is not enough research, funding and the treatments are antiquated.  These are our children!!  There must be more awareness, funding and action to help improve treatments and to find cures for our children.  Yes, OUR!  Maybe today you are unaffected… “thats someone else’s kid…”  but you could blink and it could be your child, your friend’s or someone in your family.  Take the time to learn more about this horrible disease and make one or two minor changes in your life that could help in the efforts to promote awareness, research and possibly a cure!

One group making strides with awareness is thetruth365 organization.  Please visit their site, watch their videos and sign any petition you can get your hands on.  Its worth it!

This is a short montage music video of the event.  It just captures a few scenes of a truly amazing day.  I plan to put together a more in depth video as some of the speeches and displays of absolute courage were truly moving and deserves to be shared.

NEAT VIDEO…”Bring da noise!”

Ok, corny title.  Met a nice guy at my niece’s wedding this weekend.  He is going to produce the video for the event and we got to talking about Neat Video.  Ya see, with digital cameras and a dark event like a wedding its not uncommon to experience noise (grainy image) in the darker scenes.  Some of you I am sure know what I am talking about and have experienced this with your phone or even low priced cameras.  There is only a couple ways to get around this… add light or increase the cameras ability to bring in light.  Both of these options are limited.  I am sure if you cranked up the candle power on your lights at the reception you’d piss off the bride and the camera can only do so much to bring in more light.  In comes Neat Video.  Just like Dolby Noise Reduction used to reduce the tape hiss or “noise” of your old cassettes, Neat Video reduces video noise.  I know, I know not “just like” but its a simple way to look at it.  Neat Video is available as a plug in for many editors and the way it is used is generally the same for all.  It goes for $99 and it is available at www.neatvideo.com.  Take a look below at my sample of it being used in FCPX.  Its fairly easy and may help you save that shot.

 

A special day for a very special girl

Last week in perfect weather we walked in support of Amelia Schmidt and the Lymphoma Research Foundation.  There were 130 people there… just for Amelia’s team!  I put together a quick video trying to capture the event but it still doesn’t do justice to the level of support that is around this girl and her family.  Our prayers continue.  Go Amelia!

For more information about Amelia and her courageous fight:  https://www.facebook.com/theTruth365film

 

 

F-Stop for Mac- A good way to upload your photos to Flickr

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 8.40.47 AM

This is a nice program if for nothing else to use as a vehicle to upload your photos into Flicker.  If you don’t already know about Flickr’s free 1TB of storage for your photos and videos then go read my previous blog HERE.

There are several ways to get your photos to flickr.  You can sync from your iPhotos library but I don’t like that method.  If you delete photos from your iPhoto library when it “synchs” with flickr it will also delete the photos from Flickr.  (not good for me)

You can use the Flickr app in the iPhone or iPad and have the “auto upload setting” enabled but you need to make sure of two things… 1-You are in wifi so you don’t use up data (this is a setting you control) and 2-You have the app ON when you are in wifi…otherwise it won’t work.  Ultimately this only backs up the photos on your phone or iPad.

When it comes to uploading and backing up photos I like to have my photos in two places. A hard disk or server (on site) and on Flickr.  That way if there is a major catastrophe at my house there is an off site backup…Flickr.

F-Stop is a program or app for the Mac.  What I like about it is the ability to mass upload photos even if they are in folders and it sets the set name to that folder name.  So if your folder is named “2003 christmas” then it will create a set with all of that folder’s pictures named “2003 Christmas”.  Nothing super special but saves you a step that you would normally have to do.

How it works.  Download the app and upon set up it asks to link to Flicker.  It will take you to the flickr page and you click on “yes” allow control and then Flickr gives you a 9 digit access code which you then paste into the f-stop app set up window.  Hit enter and you will see your sets and Flickr info load.  Mine looks like this…

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 8.39.06 AM

 

Once on this page you can select the UPLOAD button on the left…

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 8.39.06 AM

 

That will bring you to an upload page like this…

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 8.39.21 AM

 

Now you will open the location of the pictures that you want to back up and drag them into the area that says “Drag Images or Directories here”.  You can even drag in whole folders.

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 8.39.43 AM

 

Pick the folder or pic you want and it will populate the “drag pictures here” area and then go to the right hand side of the pane and choose if you want it to be private, friends or family only etc and hit start batch

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 8.40.07 AM

So yes you can keep adding as much as you want and the batch will run until complete.  It is also a one way trip meaning that it won’t delete the originals so you will be duplicating your photos which in my case is the desired result.

Once your photos are on Flickr you can use an app on your iPad or your iPhone called FlickStackr which in my opinion is the best way to look at the photos on Flickr.  Its fast and super intuitive.  Take a look and good luck.  Don’t hesitate to email with questions!

Tutorial

This is FlickStackr on my iPad Mini in Icon view.  Very Cool!

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 9.19.38 AM

 

 

Something different

Today I enter a different kind of post. Childhood cancer is a beast that needs to be dealt with. The Truth 365 organization is doing just that. Watch the video and visit their site (and any others for that matter) and sign every petition you can get your hands on to help these children.

I did today…I am signature 102,570

www.thetruth365.org

Canon 70D vs T2i – Video Noise

All digital cameras when faced with dark areas try to artificially add brightness.  Some do it better than others.  To see what I mean take your iPhone into a dark room and it will get all grainy.

In a DSLR you increase your brightness by using a couple of settings but raising the ISO is the most common way.  ISO’s above 800 are considered fairly high in the Video World.

I recently upgraded from the T2i to the 70D.  I wanted to see if there was any significant improvement in noise levels at high ISO’s.  I did a quick non-scientific test of both cameras  of ISO’s 800, 1250, 1600, 2500 and 3200.  I would never use the T2i over 1600 but with the 70D I might just be able to.  Take a look at the video and see what you think.

You will want to view the video in full 1080P and on an iPad retina or desktop computer.  It will be hard to see any difference on an iPhone.