T-Mobile Torture

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I moved to T-mobile last year and apart from occasional glitches, the service is good for what you pay.  However, last week we split our family plan into two separate plans.  I started handling about 7 lines and my friend manages the other 5.  I had a few friends travelling outside the country when we made the change.  2 days after making the switch under my name, all accounts under my name suddenly got suspended!

Cellular technology controls almost everything we do nowadays, ranging from checking emails, streaming radio while driving, watching a show, navigating using Google maps, etc.  My wife was travelling on business and with the service suspended, there was no way for us to communicate.  I called up the T-mobile customer care and they had no clue why the account was suspended.  The only answer I got was a fraud has been detected and there is some discrepancy on your account.  I was asked to fax my ID and SSN card from a T-mobile authorized dealer.  FAX!!!  It is the 21st century and who uses fax anymore?  Also, I don’t carry my SSN card on me at all times.  A warning or heads-up would have helped here.

I went to a store on 1212 El Camino Real, San Bruno and the person working there went over my account, couldn’t figure out what is going on and they told me they didn’t have a fax machine.  I went to another T-mobile location in Tanforan mall, San Bruno.  This time they had a fax machine but it was broken.  I drove down to the south bay as I had to pick my ssn card anyways and went to a store on Brokaw Rd but alas no fax machine again.  I was really frustrated because it had been almost 5 hours without service and driving to different T-mobile stores without GPS was another pain.  Finally, I found a store in Rivermark Plaza, Santa Clara that had a working fax machine and were able to fax the documents.

Once the documents were faxed, there was no way for me to know if they have been received by the frauds team as they are an offline team with no access to customer service reps.  The person at the store mentioned it might well be 24 hours before service will be resumed.  I went home tired and annoyed by the mess.  The next day, I waited till late in the afternoon for my phone to ring but after more than 26 hours without connection, I called the 611 helpline again.  I was told that the back of my ssn card is not clear and so they haven’t started the service!!  There are two problems here

  1. Why would T-mobile wait for me to call them instead of letting me know early in the day that I have to resend the documents?
  2. What in the name of God do you need the back of SSN card for?  There is no information on the back except for some standard message common for all individuals.

I was really agitated by this point and vented some of the anger to the person on phone.  Luckily, they gave me a 24-hour international help center number.  I called this number and spoke to a sensible lady who understood that back of SSN is not at all important and that 8 people are stranded without service.  She was able to get the service resumed in less than 10 minutes!!

I wish that T-mobile gives some sort of warning (24-hours to submit documents) before disconnecting service altogether.  Also, please don’t ask for FAX as not only it is outdated, but most of the T-mobile stores don’t even have the fax machine themselves.

Apple Service

Recently, my wife’s phone had some issues.  The battery in her 1 year old iPhone 5 went loose and there were some issues with the volume controls.  Also, the flash on the back suddenly stopped working and would take hazy pictures if I turned on flash.  As the phone was still under warranty, we went to an Apple store and showed them the phone.  The “Genius” figured that indeed the battery has gone loose under the casing and within minutes, we had a new iphone 5 in our hands!!!

This is awesome customer service and gotta hand this to Apple that they did a truly marvelous job of customer satisfaction.  I was so impressed with the Apple Customer service that I myself got an iPad mini 🙂  Now I am the proud owner of Android and Apple device at the same time.  GOOD JOB APPLE!!

Samsung Galaxy Devices

I am not going to write about the evolution of Samsung Mobile nor am I going to be writing about their loss against Apple (worth Billion $$$s).  Over the past few months, it has become a habit of mine to visit GSM Arena. It is a pretty cool website that details all the upcoming as well as recently released cell phones, their reviews and their detailed specifications. There are several other websites as well like CNET, Phone Arena, etc. but for some reason I like the simple layout of GSMARENA. I noticed that Samsung has recently been using the Galaxy brand to market all sorts of cell phones and flooding the market. I am listing a few below:

  • Samsung Galaxy SIII
  • Samsung Galaxy SII
  • Samsung Galaxy S
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
  • Samsung Galaxy SIII Mini
  • Samsung Galaxy S DUOS
  • Samsung Galaxy Y DUOS
  • Samsung Galaxy Music

A simple search resulted into 134 devices that match the Galaxy name.  These devices vary in their specs from very high end devices to mediocre.  It is with great devotion to details and refinement that Samsung has been able to develop a name, a competitor to the likes of iPhone but saturating the market with so many Galaxy devices might not be a good idea.  People buy Apple iPhone because it is unique, they identify with the brand.  They go crazy for the name. The only devices that should have had the Galaxy name are Galaxy S3, S2, S, Note and Note2. The rest of them can be grouped into some other generic brand name that people could possibly associate with cheap, durable but android devices.

As a simple example, Honda makes Accord and Acura makes TSX.  Even though Honda and Acura are one and the same, they differentiate their brands based on the market they want to attract.  Acura is defined as a car that is luxury whereas people with middle level income can also buy Accord base version. I wonder if Lamborghini started rolling out cars that are in line with the Civic and Prius, how much would the brand suffer? Samsung should use the Galaxy brand name only for the high end devices that they roll out.  These devices should get quick Android OS updates with minimum delay, have much better customer support, solid finish and best of the components. The Jelly Bean update for Android OS went live in July. However, Samsung have still not rolled out the upgrade to S3 owners even after 3 months. It has consistently failed to deliver speedy software upgrades to the end users. I wouldn’t mind the S3 with the stock OS if it had faster upgrades and better performance.

It takes years to build brand recognition and Samsung should strive to maintain the reputation it has achieved by releasing some good Galaxy line of devices. STOP wasting the brand by selling stupid cheap n mediocre quality devices!!

The Demise of BlackBerry!!

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RIM (Research In Motion), was founded in 1984 and is headquartered in Waterloo, Canada.  It pioneered in the development of many technological advancements but it’s success soared with the launch of Blackberry in 1999.  These were smartphones that revolutionized the corporate culture and there was a time that you could identify any corporate executive by checking if he carried the BB device or not.  These devices provided the highest level of security and enabling the user to send-receive push email and instant messages with other devices.  The company garnered market share based on these one business of emailing!!

Blackberries were driven by innovation but they took their success for granted.  Their innovation stopped and they went from driving the competition to just enjoying their success.  Gradually, devices like Apple iPhone rolled out which provided better interface and were easier to use for everybody.  Android launched their cellphones along the same time causing corporations to switch to iPhone or Android driven workspace.  Blackberry also rolled out their new OS around this time but they were late in the market and the BBs didn’t provide any advantage except for security.

Then in 2010-2011, the blackberry network faces outages of service that lasted days for some individual users.  The few drawbacks that I see in Blackberry are higher costing data plan for network usage, the requirement of BB network to access emails, data, etc and no major improvements over their past OS.  BBM has been copied and in use as iMessage.  The last major update to Blackberry came in 2011 with their OS7 rolling out and then they have only offered rumors.  No new devices, no new OS, the launch of the new OS keeps getting pushed to a later date.  Their tablet was a joke to even the most loyal fans of the company.

Today the RIM stock is at an all time low of 6$.  People are waiting for the company to be bought by either Dell or Samsung or some other manufacturer of handsets.  Will it survive and bring out devices that have people switching back to BBs?  Will the Blackberry 10 OS revolutionize the cell phone industry once again??  I also vision apple going the same path as RIM with no new device innovations after Steve Jobs demise but they have a huge amount of surplus wealth working in their favor.

I wish RIM does survive and bring out something awesome and new to the world!!

Just thinking about Cell Phones!

I had been using Apple iPhone for almost 2 years when the advertisement for the new revolutionary SIII started coming up on air.  I have been a huge fan of devices and normally keep switching my phones around.  My dad first brought home a black Nokia 5110.  It had a green backlight and was really a bulky device.  But it solved the purpose of roaming around and having the freedon to make calls without being connected to wires or regions.  The call charges were really high and texting was just out of the question.  Even then, when panasonic came up with a phone where you could change the color of the backlight, it was like revolutionary.  I have used Nokia 5110, 3315, 3200 (my first colored phone).

However, my fascination with touch screen devices started when I first laid my eyes on a Sony Ericsson P910i.  I instantly fell in love with the bulky stylus controlled device.  Sony Ericsson had a touch screen cell before that as well but P910i had a much decent screen, better management tools and support for better handwriting recognition.  It was a means of showing off to my friends as a teenager acting naive.  The P910i is the device that I used for the longest period of time… I would switch to something new in between but always return to the cherished device.  Sony had a great lead and could have come up with many wonderful devices.  However, it failed to utilize this technological advancement that they had and after 10-12 years Samsung used the same kind of tech on a better, much larger screen called Samsung Note.

I lost my P910i in USA while returning from a Denny’s one late night in Arlington, TX.  Years of data, texts, pictures all gone in that one dreadful night.  However, what stayed on was the love for touch screen devices.  I have always had conflicts about using different mobile OS.  Initially I would blame Apple to be too tight controlled and Android was the OS that gave freedom but it was badly programmed, had many security flaws and was not used widely.

Windows OS has been really bad in treating customers.  I bought a Samsung Omnia 2 as it had really great reviews and chose it over iPhone.  I hated the Windows device because they had the worst marketplace and no support at all for app makers.  Win 7 mobile was a welcomed gesture but I hate the Microsoft policy of not providing any kind of backward compatibility to the users.  Windows 7 didn’t support 6.5 devices and now Windows 8 will not support 7.  Atleast, there should be some kind of loyalty program where sticking to Windows device would get you some discount on all future releasing devices.  However, I guess the team at MS don’t care about brand loyalty maybe.

That brings me back to iOs to Android migration.  The transition is pretty easy and I love the Android OS so far.  However, I miss iPhone and the ability to just forget about the quirks of the OS.  I don’t give a fuck about some of the features on Android that people call liberating.  I don’t mind the control that Apple keeps on its devices so that I don’t have to worry about security when I download any app.  I am relaxed and worry free when using iOs.  The number of apps and especially new games on the iPhone is mind boggling.  Android is catching up but after programming apps on both devices, I’d say developing for iOs is much easier.

So, for now I am still exploring the Samsung Galaxy S3, rooting it, breaking stuff, coding stuff, having fun doing it but I know in my heart that as soon as iPhone 5 comes out my mind would long the games on iOs, the days I didn’t worry about security, when I’d play games with excellent graphics and great resolution.  Until the new iPhone comes out… Hello Android!!

Removing Synced Picasa pictures from Android

Hi… Recently I purchased a new Samsung galaxy S3 and as soon as I synced my gmail account, my picture gallery got flooded with tons of picture albums from Picasa, GOOGLE+, etc.  I didn’t like having those around.  The easy way to remove these pictures is as follows:

  1. Go to settings -> Accounts and Sync
  2. Select the gmail account and uncheck the box next to Sync google photos and sync picasa web albums
  3. Now, Go to settings -> Application Manager -> Gallery and clear data for this application

This would remove the albums from the Android gallery.  There are several different applications online that would be better to use compared to the stock android Gallery.