Saving money on a smartphone

I bit the bullet last week, and added a second smartphone to what’s now our family plan. I didn’t buy a new phone though. Instead, I bought a used Samsung Galaxy S 4G off Amazon (the Canadian version, which was an accident) for $100. Since we now own both phones outright, that lets us run the phones month to month, with no contracts and no penalties. They bill us every month and we use it, but I can walk into any T-Mobile store and cancel one or both phones at any time.

Chances are there’s a reactivation fee if I do that and decide to reactivate later on, but that’s cheaper than getting out of a contract.

Now, as for the Galaxy S 4G… It’s a well-built phone from about 2010. It’s on the old side, but works pretty well. I loaded a custom ROM on it and I’m very happy with it now.

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Polaroid’s M7 and M10 tablets make me glad I didn’t buy a tablet last month

I didn’t buy a tablet last month. I knew about Acer’s new low-end tablet, the Iconia B1, and that they were at least initially reluctant to release it in the United States, but I hoped that either Acer would change their mind or that someone else would decide that the U.S. market really needs something in between the $80 cheapie no-name 1-ish GHz, single-core, 800×480 tablets sold in every drugstore, closeout store, and vacant gas station lot in the country and the $200 tablets that the likes of Samsung and Acer sell.

I’d be lying if I said I saw the Polaroid M7 and M10 coming. Lying like the evil spawn of a politician and a used car salesman. Read more

I may have found a few-compromises 7-inch tablet

So I was tempted when I saw a refurbished Acer Iconia 7-inch tablet for $151. Its specs are outmoded but respectable–dual core 1 GHz, 1 GB RAM, 8 GB of storage, and a microSD slot. And Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is available for it.

But there’s something better around the corner. I say few-compromises, because I haven’t seen a no-compromises 7-inch tablet yet. The 7-inch sector is all about value.

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Myths about the 1904 World’s Fair

I just spent some time over at Wikipedia attempting to demolish the myths that the ice cream cone, hot dog, and hamburger were invented in St. Louis at the 1904 World’s Fair. Hey, one does lots of things when there’s a big pile of stuff needing to be done that one would rather neglect.
The ice cream cone was independently invented in England in the 1880s and New York City in 1896 (the NYC inventor even held a patent on it, dating from December 1903). Perhaps the stories about a vendor running out of bowls and grabbing a Syrian waffle-like pastry and wrapping it up to put ice cream in, and the story of an ice cream sandwich vendor watching someone take the top off an ice cream sandwich and wrap it into a cone, and about a baker imitating with bread the paper and metal cones used in France are all true. Maybe three or four St. Louisans did independently invent the ice cream cone. (I heard today that all myths are true.) But even if they did, they weren’t the first.

The first example of prior art on the hot dog dates back to 64 A.D. The first example of prior art on the hot dog bun dates back to New York City around 1860. A St. Louisan supposedly invented the hot dog bun in the early 1880s (the story goes that a vendor, selling red hots, would loan white gloves to his customers, who then all too often walked off with the gloves. So his brother-in-law, a baker, baked him long dinner rolls to put the red hots in). And in another example of prior art in St. Louis itself, by 1893, the eccentric Christian Frederick Wilhelm Von der Ahe, owner of the St. Louis Browns, was selling hot dogs at Sportsman’s Park. (Whether his intent was to make his patrons thirsty and drink more beer, or to give them something else to keep them from thinking about the horrendous team he was putting on the field is open to speculation.)

The case for the hamburger on a bun is just as weak. But Wikipedia’s response times are down. Examples of prior art: 1885 in Wisconsin, 1885 in Hamburg, New York, and 1891 in Hamburg, Germany.

I don’t doubt that the 1904 World’s Fair made all three of these things much more popular. But it’s an awfully big stretch to say any of them were invented here.

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