Sunday, December 4, 2016

Rain stops play

That's pretty much a standard thing for British cricket. People go to the cricket grounds expecting cricket and a few spots of rain hit the delicate little players so the umpire stops the game. Here, it's rather more of a torrential downpour that has stopped play.

Yesterday I finished putting undercoat on my brackets. The plan today was to give them a topcoat of white paint then while that was all drying, to weld some more brackets together. Unfortunately neither arc welding nor painting work well in wet conditions.

As many of you know, I'm not wealthy hence I'm turning a school bus into a home. Let me thus update you on the latest in the saga of my phone....

In 2013 I spent an inordinate amount of money on a flashy Nexus 4 smartphone. Google had dropped the price by $100 to get rid of the last 4s before the 5s were released. I spent about $300 on a phone that I hoped would last a few years. How wrong I was! In 2015 the charging port became so loose no cord would stay inserted. Thus I bought a cordless charger from China. That worked well until probably August so around about a year. It then started switching off after a few seconds.

Recently I ordered a new charging pad that was allegedly coming from California. That was supposed to arrive on the 30th. When it didn't arrive, I checked the tracking number and found it was fake. By then I'd been without a phone for a week. That's never good news.

The other day, I located the phone I took to Britain in October and put a Tracfone SIM card in it and bought the smartphone package at $15 for the month. Sadly it turned out that only the talk bit will work. Tracfone and Blu don't seem to be on the same page regarding connectivity. Thus, when the package ends in January I shall buy the $20 package giving solely talk and text for 3 months.

I'm looking at the costs of my phone service. I had a smartphone for $300 that barely lasted 3 years. That's $100 a year. I had a Blackberry prior to this that was $200 and which died after a year. Back then I was on a $35 a month plan with Virgin. Then I moved to a $45 a month plan with Family Mobile before eventually, $55 a month with Straight Talk.

Over the years I have questioned why I have a smart phone and then hunted around to justify  having one. Now I am by sheer happenstance using a dumb phone. Thus far I don't really notice any difference. Nobody much phoned me before and nobody much will continue to phone me. Nobody much texted me and I expect nobody much will continue to text me. As far as data is concerned, it was nice to be able to pull up email, websites etc, to take photos and play around.

I had an interesting email from Straight Talk, trying to get me to renew. That was a spectacular own goal! Let me show you the email...
How fatal is that? The phrase "playing on the internet" struck a chord. That was all I was doing. I was spending all this money on smartphones and data just to play aimlessly like a small baby. I don't know about you but I have better things to do with $760 a year than play quickly forgotten games online. My poverty stricken friends use Tracfone and spend $20 every 3 months. That's $80 a year and their phones had two huge advantages. The battery lasts a week between charges and the phones last for years and years.

Had I not been ripped off for the charging pad then I would never have realized that I wasn't missing much by dumping smartphones in favor of dumb phones. I was hung up on keeping GPS but since I already have a GPS unit, I'm covered. I have a neat little camera too. I don't need to be reliant upon my cellphone camera. As far as Facebook, Twitter and all that other online twaddle is concerned, I took those apps off my phones years ago. Straight Talk did me an immense favor by sending this email.

So my phone bill now drops to 10% of what it was. That's very good news!  More good news is the difference in size. My cellphone is now very small at about the size of a credit card and very light in weight.
I had been somewhat dismissive of the MiFi pads because the cheapest is $40 for 4gb that can roll over across just two months. Now that looks much more practical. In terms of cost, I used 2gb a month of wifi data and there's plenty free wifi around. I have to say that this change looks like it's going to be for the better!

My day job as a bus driver is a bit odd. We are not permitted to use electronics such as GPS navigation units. It's ok though to look at street names and a route description while driving. This has led to my making more use of ancient technology - maps and compasses. In order to better do my day job, I have ordered a street map of the area. I find it very interesting how low tech my life is becoming. I'm increasingly getting the feeling that all this expensive high technology, expensive stuff is why everybody is in so much debt. Indeed, people seem amazed that I have no full time power supply on the bus.

I grew up in Britain in the 70s and 80s at a time when CDs, DVDs, MP3s, cellphones, tablets and computers just didn't exist. It doesn't worry me not to have the latest electric or electronic toys.

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