Checkpoint: Orange Companies Edition

After four years of smartphone usage, I’m finally hopping onto a monthly data plan. It took so long because I didn’t want to pay the $50+ monthly rates that everyone was paying. But with Public Mobile‘s 4GB of data for $40 per month promotion, I couldn’t say no. It also helped that they’re backed by one of Canada’s largest networks, Telus. The only catch? They have no physical kiosks and virtually no customer service to speak of. I have to rely on social media contacts and their forums if I have issues. 

Their forum was extremely easy to navigate and search through. I was able find answers to simple questions within seconds. I had no issues transferring my phone number and setting up my account but if I did, I’m confident that I could figure it out for myself. So far, it’s been a very positive experience with Public Mobile. 

I like their silly little SIMSwap promotion which asks users to send in an image of a useless item in an exchange for free SIM. I sent a used air dispenser. I received my SIM a week later but apparently it can take 2-3 weeks which isn’t ideal if you’re trying to take advantage of the $40 for 4GB promotion ending on November 20. 

Public Mobile reminds me of another orange company that promotes low fees in exchange for minimal support, Tangerine. I don’t need to interact with customer service via phone or visit physical locations to conduct business with these services so this “customer service sacrifice” isn’t much of a sacrifice to me. And if I can sacrifice that for lower fees, sign me up.

I would really love to find an internet provider that operates like this.

TitanFall 2’s multiplayer is really growing on me. I’m not great by any means but I’m getting there. Like Overwatch, there are some very smart design choices that de-emphasize kill death ratios and promotes team glory. That’s not to say it’s as friendly as Overwatch though. 

Picross 3D is an addictive gem that’s eating away my time with Dragon Quest VII. And with Dragon Quest VIII for the 3DS making its way to North American shores in January, I have little time to remaining. 

Looking at the Belkin WeMo Light Switch

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I’m very much into the idea of home automation. I wish I could live in a Tony Stark style house with Jarvis doing all my bidding. So when I see gadgets like the Belkin WeMo Light Switch, I’m intrigued. I can control it via smartphone app, schedule and even through accessories like the motion sensor. It sounds really neat on the surface but is it worth $50?

Belkin WeMo Light Switch

CNET gave it a glowing review and the general consensus on appears to be equally positive. However despite all that, I cannot convince myself this is a useful gadget. Luxurious? Extravagant? Yes. But I just can’t see myself needing to schedule lights to turn on or remotely turning on/off my lights.

Ok, I can find one or two scenarios where that would be useful but c’mon. Not for $50. I’ll try one once I can find one for $20 – $30.

Microsoft & Nokia get more intimate

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microsoftApparently Microsoft believed a majority share of Nokia’s devices and services division was worth $7.17 billion. With that wad of cash, Microsoft dug its heels in and are seemingly in it for the long haul.

I’ve always liked what Microsoft and Nokia was doing with regards to their smartphone software and hardware. It looked very pretty and seemed to function very smoothly. It’s the post-release support and lack of app support that makes all of us cautious when looking at Windows Phone.

If this results in improved execution and a more aggressive Microsoft in the smartphone space, I will pleased. Perhaps they could leverage the “Surface” name or some other unifying brand for their tablet and handheld devices. Who knows how long it will take for Microsoft to get this ball rolling though. After all, it took Google some time before they debuted the Moto X.

Detecting for Benchmarks: A Blast from the Past

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samsung-logoI recall the controversy over NVIDIA cheating in 3DMark. I remember the internet rage and how much crud was flung over NVIDIA’s GeForce FX because of these kinds of antics. Now with Samsung (and potentially others) caught pulling off these kinds of stunts in smartphones, I’m left wondering if we’ll see something similar.

It’s actually been a couple of days since the AnandTech posted their investigation and not much buzz surrounded it. What happened? We stopped caring about just one benchmark. GL Benchmark — and most theoretical benchmarks for that matter — lost relevancy after the NVIDIA and 3DMark controversy. Reviewers and users stopped giving these theoretical benchmarks weight. It’s about user performance and real world testing.

These kinds of shady optimizations should not be condoned though. They still muddy reviews and Samsung and the likes should be called out for it.

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