Category Archives: Shopping

Cheap Comcast for the Poor and Veterans

Comcast has cheap internet for people who get government housing or food assistance, and now also offers this for Veterans. For $10/month you get 15Mbps/sec download and 2Mbps/sec upload. This is 10x faster than the old DSL speeds and more than fast enough for streaming HD video. There are no charges for setup or equipment (modem/wifi router). If you qualify, it’s a great deal.

Go to:
https://internetessentials.com

Or call 855-846-8376

To qualify, you can’t have had Internet through Comcast in the last 3 months and you can’t have another Internet service.

I only wish this was promoted more, as there are lots of qualified people who have big $100/month bundle deals because they don’t know other options exist.

Through the Internet Essentials website from Comcast, customers can also order $150 computers. These are slower desktops and laptops (currently with Core 2 Duos and i3 CPUs) but they come with Windows 10, Office, and Norton Antivirus preinstalled. This is also a great deal if you qualify. Each household has up to 2 years to purchase the computers and can purchase up to 3 computers. CDI is the partner that runs the computer sales and they can be reached at 888-234-4272.

How to pre-order iPhone X

The iPhone X is expected to be the most in-demand phone ever, relative to supply, when pre-orders begin at 3:01am eastern U.S. time on Friday, October 27th. If you want the phone early, here are suggestions, assuming that you are upgrading from an existing iPhone:

  1. Make sure that your existing iPhone is paid off to ensure that you own it completely and are eligible to upgrade.
  2. Log into apple.com to ensure that your account shipping address and credit card are up-to-date.
  3. Use the Apple Store app on your existing iPhone and go through all the purchase steps you can. Choose “Pay In Full” option so that you don’t need additional time getting credit approved for payment plans.
  4. On the last page of the Apple Store app, you will see a heart at the top right which will allow you to favorite this model and configuration.
  5. Set your alarm to wake you up 15 minutes before the pre-order time, just to make sure that you’re awake enough to not accidentally order an iMac instead of an iPhone.
  6. Make sure to use the bathroom and be properly hydrated prior to the purchase. It’s possible that the system could be overloaded and you won’t be able to make the purchase for an hour or so.
  7. Use your existing iPhone’s Apple Store app when you purchase the phone at on Oct 27th. You should be able to go to the Account tab at the bottom and see your favorited items listed there. You could have a few phones listed at favorites. This is just a quick way to reach that configuration.

It’s unfortunate that the few extra minutes needed to go through a purchase program could cost you weeks in waiting for the phone.

You could try using the apple.com website as well, but in past years the Apple Store app was the fastest method.

Don’t order anything else at the same time as the phone as that would also delay things. If you want a phone case, go in later to place that order.

And yes, this is all excessive consumerism and no one “needs” this phone. But if you’re going to get it, you may as well get it first.

UPDATE: For my future reference, the carrier still needs to verify the account, needing the last four of the social and the zip code of the account. Constantly killing and restarting the Apple Store app appears the best way, although this year the website started up soon after.

Ordering Internet Feels Like Buying A Car

Fargo's William H Macy
Fargo’s William H Macy

Have you ever haggled to get a lower price for a car? It’s a known practice. But most people don’t realize that it’s the same when ordering or renewing your internet service.

I had been paying for relatively slow but fast enough for me 15/15 Mbps Verizon FIOS service for $40/month. This was a two year deal which recently shot up to $75/month. So I called and asked what they could do. I even said that I wanted to cancel my service. Sometimes this gets you transferred to retention people who can offer you more. In this case, the representative said that he had to go off and talk to folks about what they could offer. Remember in Fargo when William H. Macey was selling a car to people and pretended to go talk to his boss? That’s what this felt like.

When the Verizon representative came back, he said that the best he could do was $50/month for 50/50 Mbps service. I said that I didn’t need that speed, but he said that it was the lowest speed currently offered by Verizon. I said that wasn’t good enough so he went to go to talk to people again. This time he came back and said that he could do it for $45/month.

Meanwhile, I was discussing the same topic with a Verizon online web chat person. This person said the best they could do was $40/month for 25/25 Mbps speed. So I hung up the phone and ordered through the web.

I don’t know if I got the best deal possible. I know someone who was recently given 30/30 Mbps for $45/month so it seems a little random. Both the phone and web person said that 30/30 wasn’t a current speed option. My guess is that the offers depend a little on who you happen to reach and what deals the sales people are told they can offer at the time.

Sadly, just like with buying a car, it’s the uninformed folks who can’t figure out the system and have to pay too much. These are often older folks who get tricked into buying an “internet security package” or are told that they need 50/50 Mbps speeds to watch Netflix. It’s no better than selling someone a pretend car undercoating.

Beeping FIOS battery

Has your FIOS or other internet box started beeping? The internet box that is usually just inside the house is called an Optical Network Terminal (ONT). (Note that the ONT plugs into another box with an antenna. This is the router.) The ONT has a Battery Backup Unit (BBU) since you need to have the ability to make 911 phone calls in the event of a power outage. But the rechargeable batteries usually just last 2-3 years.

Instead of having Verizon or your internet provider replace the battery, you can usually do so yourself if you’re comfortable opening the ONT and unplugging the battery. Replacement batteries are available at places like Amazon, BatteryMart, and Mighty Max Battery. They typically cost $30-50.

For my Verizon FIOS ONT, I had to purchase a battery that was comparable with the Goldtop HG GT12080-HG. The key things to look at are the terminal connection type, volts, and amps. My model has F2 terminals, 12 volts, and 8Ah.  You also want to make sure the dimensions fit or that the battery claims to be a direct replacement for your model.

Goldtop HG GT12080-HG Battery

iPhone 6 Mockup Cutouts

Download iPhone Mockups to See Which Size You Prefer

Not sure which mythical new iPhone is right for you? If you are a self-respecting iPhone user, you will print out mockups, cut them out, tape them to cardboard, and carry them around to help see which model you prefer.

iPhone 6 Mockup Cutouts

Download my mockups which show the expected 4.7 and 5.5 inch models next to the existing 4 inch iPhone 5/5s. When you print, be sure to not scale the document. Or manually enter scaling of 100%.

After cutting out mockups, tape as much cardboard as you need to reach your assumed phone thickness.

iPhone6-mockup

Are your hands big enough to reach the top left of the screen one-handed? If you are Shaquille O’Neal, you won’t have a problem with the 5.5 inch model. Otherwise, are you okay crimping your hand in a weird grip for one-handed operation? I can barely do this for the 4.7 inch, so the 5.5 inch would be a two handed operation for most of my use. This means I would type on the 5.5 inch iPhone like an iPad, two thumb style.

The 5.5 inch iPhone would be more difficult to use while crammed on the metro. Scrolling through an article would work, but navigating around the phone could mean a hazardous lapse of holding onto the safety bar. And no one wants to be knocked over by someone carrying a giant phone.

Does the phone fit in your pants and jacket pockets?  Do you feel like an idiot holding a large rectangle up to your head? There isn’t much time left to decide before the September or perhaps October announcement.

Tip: don’t let people at work see you using a pretend iPhone. Not everyone understands the importance of this decision.