Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My impending mobile phone decision

I have a year and a half old Palm Treo 800w. It's been a good, fully functional phone. It has a few shortcomings, like the battery life has never been that stellar, but you buy a few more charging accessories and that's really not a problem very often, particularly because I sit at a desk all day, and have a car charger.

The chief issue is that it's a Windows Mobile phone. Probably the least developed for of the major smartphone platforms (And it's running an old version, to boot). Increasingly, there's been a shift to Android.

I've been a Sprint customer since 1998 and had the same phone number with them through too many phones to count, starting with that brick-ish Qualcomm phone back in the day (when Qualcomm still made phones as opposed to just milking their CDMA patents for all they are worth).

Sprint gets a really hard knock lately as a wireless provider. Their phones have tended to be substandard compared to Verizon and AT&T, and their customer service issues are well known. I've not experienced any significant customer service issues and have even been lumped into "Sprint Premiere" which is an MVC type program which, as far as I can tell, has relatively few benefits that are of use to me. A discount on your already hugely marked up phone accessories? No thanks! They do have one benefit there - which is that you can get upgrade price on a phone after 1 year instead of two, but I haven't taken advantage of that thus far.

I have a dilemma coming up. My contract is up with Sprint in July. The HTC Evo on Sprint looks to be the best fit of the Smartphones available in the next 60-90 days. Perfect, right? Because I'm already on Sprint. But they are going to charge a phantom 10 bucks a month more for the service, and I'm already having issues with how much I'm paying Sprint for my family plan.

At the same time, I've been pricing out AT&T with the new corporate discount that I can get through work. And I can get an iPhone, Katie can get something and we can save 20 or 30 a month over our current plan if it all works out. And I just got a Blackberry from work on AT&T to try it out. And the performance of their network is better than Sprint has been for me in the places I regularly am. So this is not boding well for Sprint.

My current plan is to wait to see what is announced for the next gen iPhone, and then evaluate at that time. My current Sprint contract is up in July, so if I do decide to go iPhone, I'll probably do it then and make the AT&T switch. I can't even believe I'm saying that.

If I decide to go to an Evo I'll probably buy one in June sometime. And I'm going to try and work the Sprint retentions people for all it's worth. I'd like to stay off contract and still get a good price on that phone if possible as well.

Decisions, Decisions.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Earthtainers galore!

Bless me blog readers, for I have sinned and not posted for a long while. Well, we've been really busy with a new baby and all, so I guess I have a good excuse.

I've also spent a good chunk of my free time the last week constructing 7 EarthTainers for various people and inspired building of at least 4 additional EarthTainers that I know of (with consultation to the builder).

For those of you that are like, "huh, what's he talking about?", an EarthTainer is a container growing system that ensures vegetable plants, usually tomatoes, are properly watered. I built one last year after reading about it on LifeHacker a year ago (Lifehacker is a must read, if you don't already read it, particularly for the tinkering types among us). It took me several hours and lots of new tools and parts to build one last year. The results? They were pretty great - my tomato yield was fantastic.

Tomato plants mid summer

Several of my friends caught on to my little project and were interested in building containers of their own, so I told a few people that I'd help them build these this year.

Last Thursday I went over to Jenni and Matt's place, and built 3 containers for her. It went really smoothly and it's a lot easier of a project when you have people to help. Jenni's planting tomatoes and peppers in her containers. I can't wait to go over and see how they are growing.

This past weekend, I built 4 more containers, 1 more for myself, 1 for my father-in-law and 2 for my friend and co-worker. My friend's family was so impressed with them that they were building 4 more total for 2 different people.

I'm pretty excited about the 11 earthtainers I've built or inspired, and I'm sure there will be many more. I bet the Lowes in West St Paul and Plymouth are wondering why there's a run on 31 gallon tan RuggedTotes.

If you do decide to build, there's a frequently updated PDF here, and if you're local to the Twin Cities and need assistance, feel free to get in touch with me.

As for my bins, I'm growing 4 tomato plants this year. I have to still buy those and plant them, but that will happen sometime this week.