T-Mobile Trials

While I was in Arizona I picked up a new Galaxy S3. I got it at a tmobile store and the conversation was along the lines of,

“I want to purchase an S3 with no contract, unlocked.”
“No problem.”

I paid full price and left with what I think is a rather nice phone. When I got back to Hungary I opened up my old Galaxy S and my new S3 to swap sim cards and found out they changed the size of the card. Not sure why – this phone makes my old Galaxy S feel rather small and the new sim card is smaller. But I found out it was a rather trivial matter to cut down a larger card – so I did and that was fine.

I booted up the phone, put in my pin for the sim card and then I was asked to provide the unlock code.

I got on the tmobile web site. There is no email address there. The options are to call on the phone, send a letter or do live chat. I went with chat. I told them my issue and they opened a ticket. That got me an email from them telling me to fax my receipt to them to prove I had paid full price for the phone. So – just to sum up where we are – I need to prove to the other party that I paid them for what I bought. Apparently they don’t keep track of what they sell. And I have to prove it with a fax; in 2012.

Fortunately my office has a fax machine so I went down there, made a cover page per their directions and faxed it all in. The email said it could take up to a week for them to process my request.

I waited and yesterday I got an email from them letting me know that since they never got the fax, they were closing the ticket. SO – I got back on chat and opened it with the statement “I faxed you what you requested in your email and just got an email back saying you didn’t get the fax.” The person on the other end said they would look into it and asked me to give them a few minutes. I thought this was reasonable. They came back and said, “The problem is they never received the fax.” That is what I had just put into statement of my issue. The next step was asking me what phone number I used for the fax. I put it in, in the exact format they had given me in the email – 813-353-6557 and the response I got back was “The correct number is 1-813-353-6557. Did you dial the 1?” I about popped a vein. (I’m now relatively sure I was not talking to a live person but software.)

The resolution, once I assured them I properly dialed the number – was to open another ticket and to ask me to fax the receipt again.

So to restate – I walked into a tmobile store and bought some equipment from them. I was told it was unlocked and I paid the full, no contract price. Now I’m fighting with them over a fax (in 2012!) about whether or not that transaction actually took place. They lied to me and now they are intentionally trying to keep me from using what I bought from them.

The kicker is that when I get it unlocked it will be so I can use the phone on the t-mobile network here in Hungary.

I could root and unlock it via other means – but I shouldn’t have to. I shouldn’t have to pay someone, or go to sketchy sites and download stuff that I’m not sure about. My property should work as designed. As of right now, in my opinion, T-Mobile is failing grievously at providing the service they should be providing. I know that isn’t shocking news to anyone but getting the word out is, I think, part of my civic duty in this case. I want to make sure others are aware that if they find themselves in a purchasing situation, thinking about buying a phone to take outside the US from t-mobile, that they are going to suck at helping you do so.

Got a New Computer Today

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the arrival of my new Raspberry Pi and today it came. I was showing it to a co-worker and she was impressed that this little board is a computer. I really look forward to experimenting with it and seeing just what kind of creative uses we can come up with. I’m hoping it wont be long until they have them readily available and anyone who has a great idea for how to use them can get them in bulk.

Clean the Fan

This video is supposed to be funny but it’s actually pretty good documentation of how I spent a good chunk of my morning. Ingrid’s laptop was overheating and needed to be cleaned out. I pretty much had to completely disassemble it as shown in the song. I didn’t have to do some things they have in there, but did have to do some they don’t show. Pretty poor engineering.

Do It Yourself

Our refrigerator has been leaking water. It took us a little time to figure out where the water was coming from and for a while it seemed it might be coming out of the wall from behind some cabinets. So the fact that it was the refrigerator was actually a relief, because even if we had to buy a new one, that would still be cheaper than if the water were leaking through the wall.

Of course the next step was to figure out where the water was coming from. Ingrid nailed down that it leaked out when she used the water dispenser on the door. So she turned off the water at the wall where it led to the back of the fridge and that took care of the immediate issue. Today I finally got to dig in and take a look.

The water runs from a little spigot in the wall to the back of the fridge, where it goes into a valve. From that valve water runs to a filter up inside and then back to a second valve, and from there to the ice maker and dispenser. It’s an interesting design.

The very first valve, the one that is connected to the external water tube, has water coming out of two points rather than one. So one tube goes in, two come out and then connect to a little Y shaped plastic piece that then connects to the single line that goes to the filter. I have no idea why they decided to make it that way. It makes no sense and of course it was that tiny plastic Y piece that broke. So when the valve opened, water was leaking out of it.

I got online, looked up the model number for the refrigerator and then browsed through part diagrams. And here is where we come to the kicker. They don’t make or sell that little Y shaped piece any more. They figured out it was a crappy design and came up with a new valve that has one inlet and one outlet. That eliminated the need for the Y. What that means for me though is that instead of buying a 25 cent plastic piece I had to order a $40 valve. The valve I have now works fine, it just wont hook up to the line any more. I could go to home depot and see if I could find something that I could rig together, but we’ll be renting this place out soon and I don’t want to leave something like that behind for someone else. Should have the new valve next week.

Kindle Wi-Fi

A friend from Hungary told us Kindles for the kids would be a good idea, as it might be tough to find kids books in English. I’ve been mulling it over, thinking about how to fit it in the budget, wondering if there are acceptable options that would cost less. At the same Amazon has been hard at work solving most of those issues for me. First they dropped the price significantly. That made it all a bit easier to swallow.

Today I see they have announced the Kindle Wi-Fi. It doesn’t come with wireless, weighs only 8.5 ounces and has a battery life from 3 weeks to a month. And it costs less than a DSi. Totally awesome.

Nokia Bike Charger and New Phones

When I talk to people about how mobile is changing the world, especially the developing world they often ask me how people who don’t have electricity charge their phones. I’ve got some nice pictures of places in Africa where one can pay to get their phone charged. Often it is from a car battery hooked up to an inverter, with a power strip and chargers attached. Nokia is far and away the most dominant phone manufacturer in the developing world and they aim to maintain that dominance. I think their new bicycle powered charger will help. It generates power to charge phones, much like the lights that are bike charged work.

Team that up with the newly announced Nokia C1 and it’s an amazing combination. The C1 battery is reported to last on a single charge up to 6 weeks. It also has a built in flashlight, FM radio and it can have 2 sim cards in at the same time. At $35 it is going to be popular I think.

That’s the lowest end of the new C Series phones. The C2 has some great features and 2 sim cards as well, but in the C2 they can both be active at the same time. I think I’m going to need one of these for traveling. The world is getting smaller every day and mobile technology is a huge part of it.

New Work Machine

My new Acer Aspire came in to work. It’s a compact machine that has what I consider to be very good specs for its size and price. Most importantly it’s pretty Linux friendly. The first thing I did was blow out Windows 7 with a Fedora 12 install. Here are a couple pics of it on my desk.



This system replaces a rather old and rather large HP machine that sat below my desk. My feet are happy with the new room that they get. I picked this machine up via Tiger Direct. Their customer service was solid in helping me get the order done and it arrived very quickly.

This was my first 64 bit Fedora install. Everything was pretty normal. The only issue I’ve run into is Adobe does not have a version of Air available for 64 bit Linux. They have instructions to install the 32 bit version but they are very out of date and I’m not comfortable with what they want done anyway. So I will be foregoing Air for the time being. Maybe this will motivate to get back to work on the twitter client I was trying to get done. I think we all agree the world needs more Twitter clients.