How to Cut Your Phone Bill in Half


It seems like the price of Canadian phone plans have finally started to decrease. After many horrifying stories of companies overcharging consumers, it looks like the government has finally stepped in and put some safeguards in place to protect consumers. With new companies like Wind and Mobilicity coming to the rescue by providing affordable mobile services, it seems the worst is finally behind us. Even Fido has a new promotion out right now with no fixed contract.

Even though things are looking better, the problem with these new companies like Wind and Mobilicity is they don’t have the network coverage of “The Big 3”. While this isn’t an issue for most people, when your job requires you to go out of town and you have no reception, it starts to becomes a big problem.

Now along with these cheaper plans are also new Voip services that are appearing. Google Voice as I mentioned in an earlier post has been around for over a year now, and Dell Voice, the close Canadian equivalent is also here at little to no cost. With these options available, there really is no longer a need for a voice plan with your service provider. These services provide both talk and text using just the data from your smartphone. The only problem is none of the carriers will give you a data only plan without a voice plan as well. This really makes no sense considering there are tablet plans out there that have no voice plan associated with them.

I decided to talk to a Bell representative through web-chat to see what they thought:

Bell Representative Chat

As annoying as this is, I’ve been doing some digging to find ways around this. The tablet plans from Bell and Rogers are definitely good deals. They’re only $35/month for 5GB. That’s more than enough data to talk, text, and surf the web. Along side your free Voip service from either Google Voice, or Dell Voice, you’re essentially cutting your bill in half. Now the reason why it may be better to choose these companies over the smaller companies is again due to coverage, but another key reason is they provide LTE service. While it isn’t essential, the added bandwidth will definitely help with the call quality.

So here are the steps to get around paying for a voice plan:

1. Buy a sim card that’s also compatible with your smartphone from a company of your choice (preferably one that provides LTE).

2. Activate the sim card with a tablet plan from your chosen provider (don’t inset it into your phone yet).

3. Connect your smartphone to a wi-fi network

4. Go to the APN Changer website on your smartphone http://unlockit.co.nz/

5. Create APN – Choose country and carrier

6. Hit create APN and install

install

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Insert sim card into your phone

And that’s it, voila. You should have a data only smartphone with Voip services. With this great new service you can enjoy unlimited calling and texting anywhere in the country with 5GB of data for only $35/month. The phone companies have been screwing us over for too long. It’s only fair we screw them back.

Tutorial on how to Record Conversations from your Smartphone onto your Mac through Bluetooth


Hey guys, here is my first tutorial video. It shows you an awesome way of recording conversations from your iPhone or other smartphone devices using your Mac through bluetooth.

There are definitely a lot of different apps and gadgets that can do this sort of thing, but the problem with a lot of them is most of them have  a pay per use fee. With the method described in this tutorial, you only have to pay for the apps once and you can record as many conversations as you want.

Google Voice is definitely a great option for recording phone conversations. It’s actually built right into the App, but for people that don’t like in the US, this isn’t an option for them.

The other options you have are apps that will actually put you into a conference call with a machine that will record the conversation. When the call is complete it will e-mail you an audio clip of the phone call. While this is a great way to get around the Apple or Android API, these companies are usually charging a small fee. Usually around $2/hour, which isn’t too bad by any standards.

Other options you have available are bluetooth enabled recording devices. These devices will actually pair with your smartphone and it would act basically as a bluetooth headset while also recording the conversation you wish to keep. Some examples of this is the MYNAH Call Recorder, and the one from Spy Gear Gadgets.

That is actually what gave me the idea that if you could have these gadgets that can record through bluetooth, shouldn’t your Mac also be able to as well? Turns out you can and I explain it all in the tutorial video. Hope it was helpful! If you have any questions, please feel free to comment and I’ll try to answer them when I get the chance.

The apps in the tutorial can be found in the Mac App Store, or by following these links…

Phone Amego – $29.99
All Audio Recorder $19.99

Moving Towards The Dark Side (Or maybe I’m beginning to see the light?)


I’ve been getting very upset with Apple lately. It’s been just over a year since Steve Jobs passed away, but already I’m noticing signs of Apple slowing down. Their slope for innovation seems to almost be at a flat-line and I’m really hoping things will change soon. I’m almost getting ready to abandon ship.

Some of the things that upsets me about Apple, as well as many their users, is how they limit the functionality of their products to just their newer models. Some examples of this is limiting Siri to the 4S and the iPhone 5, and also Airplay now available on Mountain Lion is only for Mac models of 2011 or later. Decisions like this make no sense to me and it makes me feel like Apple is only in it to make a buck. I feel like they’re not thinking enough about their consumers. I don’t see Google trying to pull off anything like this.

Google has been around for many years now and I have to say that besides having a natural grudge against Android for being an Apple fanboy, I really like how the company is run and I enjoy using their products. I don’t think I’ve ever spent a dollar on any of Google’s services and yet they’ve been some of the most innovative products I’ve ever seen. I feel Google really cares about their customers and tries to give them the most affordable options available.

In my opinion Android has already caught up and surpassed Apple in the smartphone department. They have more apps, more customization, and more functionality. It’s also not fair to compare Android to Windows, since they don’t seem to experience a lot of the problems the Windows OS has. Sure they’re more prone to viruses than iOS, but it terms of reliability, they’re lightyears ahead of the old Windows OS.

I know people have been hating on the new Maps app for the iPhone for some time now. I didn’t think it was too bad at first until I actually tried using it and found it couldn’t find something as simple as a McDonalds near my house. It made me want to downgrade my firmware back to the old iOS5, but of course Apple won’t let you do that.

And Siri. It’s been out for over a year now. Why am I not seeing any improvement? Instead they’ve allowed to competition to catch up and even surpass them in some ways. Oh, and guess what, if you’re using an iPhone 4 or earlier, you have the Google Voice Search (the Siri equivalent) option available on your device. Now tell me how I’m able to use Google Voice Search, but not Siri on my Apple iPhone? C’mon Apple, get with the program. You’re losing valuable search queries to your competition.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that Apple is starting to lose me as a customer. They’re definitely still ahead in the Tablet department and their Macs are (in my opinion) still the best personal computers money can buy, but if they continue to travel down this path then they may just turn into the next Microsoft. Start treating your customers like you actually care and stop limiting functionality on your products for what appears to be no apparent reason.

iPad Mini – Why it might be a good idea to hold off


The long awaited iPad mini has finally arrived, and while Apple normally tries to throw us off with a name we weren’t expecting, everyone was definitely expecting the name ‘iPad mini’. I was one of the early adopters of the original iPad 2, and while it was a great device, there were 3 things about it that I thought needed improvement. The camera being one, the screen resolution, and finally, THE SIZE!

Let’s start off with the size. The iPad 2 displays a screen size of 9.7 inches and is a great form factor for doing almost everything a tablet is designed to do. The only grudge I had against this is when I was trying to read an ebook at night, I just found it too large to hold. This resulted in me buying a much smaller 6” Kobo ereader, which I find perfect for this purpose. The new iPad mini boasts a 7.9-inch screen, and though it’s a bit larger than the 7-inch I was hoping for, it seems that it would be a much better fit for my intended purposes.

Model Size
iPad mini 7.9”
iPad 2 9.7”
iPad Retina 9.7”

Next let’s talk about the camera. I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried the camera on the iPad 2, but it was just awful. Considering they already released an iPhone 4 at the time with a great camera just boggles my mind for why they had to put lower grade camera in the iPad 2. This just lead me to abandoning the camera feature altogether and just using it for purposes such as Facetime and chatting. The new iPad mini does have an improved camera compared to the iPad 2 at 5 megapixels, but again was not the grade of technology in their newest devices such as the iPhone 5 (8 megapixel). Am I the only one sensing a pattern here?

Model Camera
iPad mini 1.2 MP Front; 5MP Back
iPad 2 VGA Resolution Front; 960 x 720 back
iPad Retina 1.2 MP Front; 5MP Back

And finally the resolution, I personally did not find the iPad 2 resolution to be all that great. This was especially true when reading things like magazines with very small font. The sharpness of text just wasn’t there especially when comparing it to my iPhone 4. Yes, the 3rd generation iPad did fix this problem with their new retina display, but again the retina technology had already existed with their existing iPhone 4 product when the iPad 2 was released. So it did not surprise me when they said that the iPad mini would have the same resolution as the iPad 2 instead of the retina technology, since it seems putting dated technology in their products is common practice for Apple. With that said, although the resolution is the same, text may appear still appear sharper in the new iPad mini since the pixels are more compressed with a higher pixel density.

Model Resolution
iPad mini 1024 x 768; 163 ppi
iPad 2 1024 x 768; 132 ppi
iPad Retina 2048 x 1536; 264 ppi

So my final thoughts on the iPad mini, I think it’s a great product, but not at the level I want it to be at. One thing I’m not complaining about is the size, which seems perfect, but the technology I want just isn’t there. So for now I’m going to hold off and choose to wait a year until Apple releases the new iPad mini 2 with retina display.

Mint.com Makes Budgeting Easy and Fun


So my co-worker and I were having a chat. He was having a problem with his spending. It seems like every week all his money just disappears in a cloud of smoke. He was telling me about how he really had to start watching his spending to figure out where it all goes. We’ve all heard the story before. His solution to this was that he was going to start writing everything down.

Then I thought, ‘Really? This is the 21st century. We already have apps to do that for us.’ The app I was thinking of was mint.com. It’s a budgeting tool that automatically categorizes your transactions and gives you alerts when you are over budget.

Me: Are you really going to write it all down? That takes a lot of time and effort. They already have an app that does that for you automatically. You just set your budgets at the beginning of the month and it automatically categorizes all the transactions for you. 

Co-worker: Really? How does it work? Do you currently use it?

Me: Yea, I’ve been using it for a while now. It always lets me know when I’m over budget. The only catch is you have to give them your bank’s login information so it can look up your transactions. Some people don’t feel comfortable doing that. Although millions of people are already using it and it has nothing but great reviews.

Co-worker: Okay I’m sold, how much is it gonna cost me?

Me: Oh, that’s the best part. It’s absolutely free to use. You can even add the app on your iPhone and it’ll give you alerts every time you’re over budget.

I helped him sign up and within a couple minutes he had a budget set with an idea of where all his money has gone. I would normally write a list of all it’s benefits, but it’s probably better if you just try it out yourself. Check it out at mint.com.

Why MacBooks are cheaper than PCs in the long run


As you might know by now, I am a huge Apple and Macbook fan. If I could only choose one Apple device that I have to stick with for the rest of my life, it would definitely have to be the Macbook. Yes, they do have a high initial cost, there’s no denying that, but in the long run I think you’ll be saving a lot of time and money and here’s why:

1. No viruses

Say what you will, but I’ve owned MacBooks for 5 years now and have never had a virus once. I should also mention that I download a lot of stuff and browse a lot of sites. My bandwidth usage is through the roof. Now I’m not saying it’s not possible to get a virus on a Mac, it is very possible. It’s just that nobody I know that owns a Mac has ever gotten one. Can you say the same about a PC? This will save you from a lot of headaches from having to reformat.

2. Longer usage life

This is one of the main reasons why I think it is worth it to invest in a Mac. If this was the only difference from a PC, I would pay the extra money for this reason alone. I’ve probably owned 5 different laptops before I bought my first Macbook, and all of them had the same problem. They would become sluggish after a year or two. Who cares about specs if it’s slow. The problem a lot of other laptops is their hardware is cheap and slow down due to heat. The hardware components in a Macbook are just better and are more able to tolerate the heat.

3. The best of both worlds

It’s true that not all software runs on Macs. A lot of them are only made for Windows, more specifically a lot of games. The great thing about this is that Apple has a great solution for you that they provide at no additional cost; It’s called Bootcamp. It’ll run a virtual copy of Windows on your system that will have the exact same funcationality of a PC you bought anywhere else. I personally use Windows for all my gaming and Mac OS when play time is over. (There’s also Parallels and VM Ware, but I’ll get to that in a future post.)

4. Time Machine Daily Backups

You don’t drive a car without insurance, so why run your system without backups? I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of sensitive information on my hard drive that I’d be devistated if it was lost. It doesn’t happen often, but hard drives do fail, and when it does you don’t want to be stuck without a backup. That’s the great thing about Time Machine, it backs up your hard drive on a regular basis, so you can rewind your Mac to how it was running at a specific time. Windows also has an option for backing up, but it backs up the entire hard drive each time. Not very time or space efficient.

5. Resale value

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve had 5 different laptops before I bought my first Macbook and I have to say that I have not resold any of them. Now it’s not because I couldn’t have sold them. I was just embarrassed to sell someone an old and slow laptop that would frustrate them. I can’t say the same about a Mac, it’s something that I would gladly sell, not to mention their resale value holds up quite well. My friend had a Macbook and decided to upgrade after 6 years, and when she listed it, she ended up getting more than her asking price. There was just that much demand. If you don’t believe me, check out the completed listings on eBay.

6. Looks cool

I don’t know why, but I just think they look really cool. I kinda like to deck mine out with cases and stickers, but they look pretty good bare naked. I like how the monitor lights up the Apple logo and how the keyboard has a backlight. That’s just my opinion though.

So that pretty much sums up my list of why I think it’s worth it to buy a Macbook. Notice that I didn’t mention that the OS was better. This is because I actually kinda like the Windows 7 OS. It actually has some features that I would like Apple to incorperate, but I believe the Mac is just an overall better system inside and out. Let me know if you agree or disagree. I hope if you’re a PC user that after reading this your next notebook purchase will be a Macbook. Just in case it wasn’t already.