iphone

Traded my iPhone 4S for a new Samsung Galaxy S4

I switched to a Samsung Galaxy S4 yesterday, after owning 3 generations of iPhones for several years. I've been pleasantly surprised at how much more I like this smart phone than my iPhone.

Better is of course relative, but I've been impressed with the larger and brighter screen, expandable memory options, far better camera (records in HD, and both front and rear cameras can record at the same time) and numerous configuration options.

AT&T also has a $200 iphone trade-in program, which made it an even swap for the 16-GB Samsung! Saved me the time and hassle of placing an ad on craigslist, and paid for the new phone in one shot.

Loving my Samsung. Not missing my iPhone. Lots of new things to learn (and to blog about along the way), but I like what I see so far.

My Geeked Out Road Warrior Survival Pack

I've built up a respectible arsenal of gadgets and devices while logging almost 200,000 miles in frequent flier miles this year.

Some are necessities, and some are just for fun. Some are just to keep my sanity on longer trips like the one I'm taking this week to Cologne, Germany.

My geeked out road warrior survival pack includes everything from a lithium-ion battery pack that gives my iphone 2 extra charges, to a sleek pair of noise canceling Bose headphones that block out the majority of jet airplane engine noises.

It also makes a great Christmas shopping list for the business traveler or technology addict in your life ;-)

Here's my Letterman's countdown of top ten must-have gadgets when traveling for business or pleasure:

10. Starbuck's Via 3-pack. Technology aside... Let's face it - hotel room coffee tastes horrible no matter what brand they use.

I really need a good cup of coffee to start the day off right (especially for east coast trips where it feels like I'm getting up at 4 a.m.) and these instant coffee packs from Starbucks are just as good as the real thing. You can get hot water from just about anywhere, including an in-room coffee maker without the coffee grounds.

9. iPod nano with armband. Yes, I have an iPhone too (see #1 below) but a small ipod is more convenient for working out, and also provides more hours of music for helping long flights go by faster.

8. Camera. I bring my Nikon D50 DSLR camera along with a 300mm zoom lens when I want to be sure and capture the city views in high quality (and I usually have some time after business hours for touring the city).

Using iPhone 3GS on WiFi-enabled Flights

I'm enroute to Dallas, TX right now and it's a wifi flight with American Airlines. I'm typing... I mean tapping this post on my iPhone 3GS, after paying a nominal $7.95 fee.

The Internet speed on the in-flight wifi connection is plenty fast to download a music album from iTunes while updating 4 apps, browsing the web and checkng email, without any noticeable slow down.

GPS looks a little confused though - it thinks I'm still at the airport even though we've been traveling for a couple hours, probably because that's where the signal is coming from:

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SMS also doesn't work, so don't plan on texting on these flights. You also can't share a connection between a laptop and mobile device - you have to pay an additional connection for a laptop or mobile device (iPhone, Blackberry, etc).

I'd love to see wifi be free on flights, but all things considered, I felt it was still a great value since I was able to get a lot of work done (and play) instead of wasting a few hours in the air.

Playing Mobile Device Videos on Your Computer

Question: I emailed myself a video I took from my blackberry curve. When i try to play the video on my computer it says it can't find the file extension. What is the deal?

Answer: The deal is that you either need a program installed on your computer that can play the video file, or a program that will convert it to a common video format like Quicktime or Windows Media.

I'll cover both approaches, and will introduce you to some free and low-cost programs that'll handle the video viewing and converting. I'll also show you how to convert Quicktime or Windows Media videos into a format that can be viewed on a Blackberry, iPhone, or virtually any mobile device that supports video.

Video Players

Most computers come with some form of a video player, such as Windows Media Player that plays video files with a .wmv extension. You can also get the Quicktime video player for free from Apple that plays .mp4 video files.

However, videos that are recorded from a mobile device will usually have a different file extension, such as .3GP for movies recorded on Motorola RAZR phones. These videos won't play in Quicktime or Windows Media.

You'll need a video player designed to read the video format that your specific mobile device uses, or better yet - one that can play a wide range of video formats so that you'll still be in luck if you switch phones in the future.

Rather then look for a universal video file player, look for a video file converter. Not only will you get the ability to view all kinds of video files, but you'll be able to convert them to be viewable on other devices or other computer systems like a Macintosh. Two for the price of one.

Video Converters

AT&T socks me with over $400 of international data roaming charges!

I recently went to Zurich for a week-long business trip (training developers on Jive Clearspace). I knew I'd need to use my iPhone for a variety of reasons, such as email, web access, chat, and google maps.

So like any responsible employee I went into the AT&T office and spoke directly with a rep about what international data plans I'd need to purchase, and how much it would cost me.

I bought a 100 MB data package for $129.99, and paid a $5 international plan that brought phone calls down to $.99 a minute (otherwise they'd cost me $1.29 a minute). I reset my iPhone usage before boarding the plane, and watched it like a hawk the whole time I was there.

Here's what it looked like as I stepped off the plane at the Chicago airport for my connecting flight, on October 25th:

Figured I couldn't have cut it any closer, but was only about 5 megs over the limit, give or take a few megs that might not have been reported by then (although it was a 10 hour flight, so it should have been pretty accurate by then).

That next day, AT&T calls me to let me know I had a bill of $2350 from my data usage! I calmly explained that I had purchased the data plan and after a little digging and keyboard clicking on their end they were able to find that I had indeed bought the plan and only owed for the 14 MB of overages and owed about $54 extra for those kilobytes.

I wasn't sure where they came up with 14 megs, but the $54 didn't sound to outrageous and so I let it go.

Fast forward a week to November 1st. I go online to check my bill and find that they've tacked on $460 of data roaming charges. They're calling them mobile-to-web "calls" and told me I must have been in an area where roaming charges applied.

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