Network updates

I found two places this week that Verizon does not have coverage. One AT&T did have really good coverage, the other AT&T also was without service. One was in Clyde, CA & the other was in Martinez, CA. I did not take screenshots. I believe that if AT&T invests well in it’s network with all the wireless money it continues to get, then Verizon will have to play catch up. As for now, Verizon’s network seems more stable and reliable.

I don’t think I want to write more on this subject. It is getting a little boring to me. If anything comes up of interest, I will let you, my reader, know.
Thanks,
-Ezra

California Network Showdown #1

I have both AT&T and Verizon data plans now. It may seem crazy to some, but I really like bandwidth, and love the opportunity to see which offers more value for the money in my real world situations. Also, my AT&T contract is almost up, so I don’t plan on keeping it this way forever.

I stopped to get fuel on a roadtrip to and from Redding, CA and did a network speed test at one of the last stops at a Chevron just off of interstate 5

AT&T on the Edge Network

Well, there is not a lot of room for a slower connection than this.The good news here I see is that there are a solid five bars of signal strength, but only one kilobit per bar ratio for download speed. I suppose if I were to really thouroughly test this, I should have tried to make a call, but I had to attend to the pump, since the trigger released itself for some reason. Karyn does not have a lot of patience for my experiments going longer than a commercial break, especially when we have to get back on the freeway and make good time.

AT&T on the 3G Network

Not too bad. This is usable. I have no idea why it took four minutes to find the 3G signal, but I am glad it did. I did not turn off the 3G setting to get the first edge reading above, it just happened this way, oddly. I guess the edge network is what one uses to talk on while surfing the net with 3G?

Verizon on the 3G Network

Wow! This was way beyond
my expectations. I had to double check my network settings to be sure I was not connected to some other courtesy network. Nothing else around but freeway and grass besides this pump station.

Chevron Food Mart Location

Karyn was getting a few Gatorades at the food Mart, and I was not quite filling up our tank, besides doing these ‘geek tests’

MiFi on my dashboard

Today Verizon wins by an embarrassing landslide. I have never had a speed test result this high done from my iPhone while not on my home WiFi network

Network Diversification

Well, I finally did it. I got a Verizon Wireless MiFi 2200 portable CDMA router. Partially out of curiosity, and part because of utility.

I wanted a way to work on my laptop when on the road, publishing web page edits and podcast episodes, because WiFi service is not everywhere. It seems like whenever I go on a retreat or camp, my iPhone has no service. A lot of times, on a retreat, it makes sense to be unplugged, but if I can’t make a call, that is a problem. So Skype can help in those situations.

I have 30 days to decide if I want to lock into this contract, so hopefully 5GB per month works for me for the next 24 months.

Wireless Consolidation

Experiences

I am in a wireless contract with AT&T due to my appreciation of Apple’s hardware and software design; I have an iPhone. One thing that displeases me is the lack of choice. I would prefer that I’d have to pay for the services I use and not for those I do not use. For example, I use a lot of data. I use messaging a lot with my wife and occasionally with others. I use the voice part of my phone when I am called, but it is the lowest quality audio and connection I ever have had with any carrier. I am interested in doing more with fewer devices and contracts if at all possible. The things I am interested in accomplishing usually have to do with eliminating unnecessary redundancies.

Practicality

I don’t mind having three or more ways to contact a person from my iPhone if I am charged like any other utility. The problem is that voice is data, SMS texts are data, and data is data. I am charged for voice I do not want, and I am limited as to what kind of data I use in what ways. If SMS messages were to cost something relative to the cost in bandwidth, they would be really cheap, then voice would be a bit more expensive, because of data latency standards needing to be higher to facilitate a conversation, and the most expensive things to do would be upload or download files or stream uncompressed video. How many people would just use text only communication devices if that were an option? I imagine $20 per month would not be unreasonable for a text-only device unlimited service plan. Every middle-schooler and high-schooler could afford to keep in touch with friends. People with iPod Touches could add a texting plan and not worry about having a phone otherwise. Voice plans would be for businesses and customer service troubleshooting at home.

Focus

As it is, I am paying a lot, and getting a lot. I want less- and more in some ways. The problem is that cell phone companies are still pushing the starting point higher for the monthly plans they offer. There are new laws that prohibit texting while driving, and I understand the reasoning behind that, but the benefits of texting as a primary form of communication is both time shifting and immediacy. When I get a voice call, there is data spent for formalities and “how are you doing” and “we will have to hang out sometime, yeah that would be great” kind of stuff. When I get a text, it does not start with “To whom it may concern:” no, it says exactly what the point was of the communication. I like that. Most people realize when texting isn’t enough and switch to a call when necessary, unless they are both really fast at typing, such as my wife and I, who are often interrupted by kids or work on even the shortest of calls. I think that voice calling is pretty unsatisfying anyways. If you want an emotional connection with a friend, meeting in person is always best. A culture of texting could highlight the need for in-person community gatherings and face-to-face meetings. I got a little off of my main thought there, but I hope you understood the line of thinking I had.

Reasoning

Well, the original thought was that I don’t think I will renew my iPhone contract when it is up. I may change my mind (if iPhone #4 makes my MacBook pro seem primitive in utility), but I want to try out an ‘a la carte’ version of this wireless services spending where I spend as little as possible on what I want to discourage, and more on what I want to encourage. For example, cheap ‘burner’ AT&T phone with no data or texting plan until my wife’s iPhone plan expires, and a Verizon MiFi portable hotspot with an iPad wifi model 16GB or my laptop for all the stuff I really want to pass the time while on break or lunch at work. It is pretty close to the same monthly cost for me with a few more abilities for remote web publishing, due to the enhanced functionality of devices larger than my iPhone. Also, my iPhone will still work as well as it did on wifi if not better. I just won’t get voicemail or texts on it. Let me know what you think if you also have been contemplating something similar.

Thanks.

Update: I realize that this plan neither creates fewer contracts nor allows for fewer devices, yet somehow I see it as being beneficial. Perhaps by having browsing and texting not intrinsically intertwined with my phone I may be less distracted by it during the day. Thoughts still welcomed.

Eden

I have a second daughter as of Sunday, February 21st, 2010. She is perfect, so it seems. Karyn is doing well too. One week before her due date, 7 lbs and half an ounce. Nineteen and three-quarters of an inch long. The hospital has wifi, and I am off work to bond and lend a hand, so why not blog with the other hand?
Photo on 2010-02-22 at 08.57 #3.jpg

Speech Recognition Software

Everybody attended meet at Golden Dragon dictate I forgot the panties free for some software that I wanted to get from a computer that is $700 limit free iPhone

What I really said was,”Hey everybody, I found a neat app called Dragon Dictate. I just can’t believe the software that I wanted to get for a computer that is several hundred dollars is free on the iPhone.”
I guess I need to speak more clearly. It entertained me nonetheless.

Make it Right

Truth can hurt, but it is still the best path for solving a problem that starts with dishonest acts or words. It can’t get any better delaying the truth.
It is like when I realized I was going too fast downhill (35mph) longboarding and dove off and got hurt, but didn’t die or break any bones like if I were to wait until the board got even faster (45-50mph) and flew out from under me with speed wobbles. It was a scary situation that made me feel dumb that I got into it, but it was gonna hurt either way. It just would have had worse consequences if I didn’t have control of the timing in how it was made right.
This is advice I offer to anyone who gets into a predicament caused by selfish goals that displace common sense.

Camp

My role at the youth camp that happens each summer has changed a lot since I first got involved as a sixth grader in 1989. Camp itself has also changed a lot through the years. I couldn’t say it has become better or worse, but in some ways you could make a case for both sides. Maybe it is a case of ‘the good old days’ syndrome on my part, but I can appreciate simplifying things down to the essential parts at camp so that distractions are minimized. I do not plan on describing each year one by one and the subtle differences that took place between them. I will describe past and present instead.
The past: less than 80 teens gathered at Lassen pines in open air tents shaped like covered wagons each wagon with a solo counselor and spent the majority of time outdoors eating at picnic tables, sitting on wooden bleachers near a bonfire each night and playing games in a field nearby or at night. The speaker used an overhead projector to illustrate his points and to captivate his audience.
The present: over 200 teens gather at Sky Mountain Christian Camp and stay in cabins with heaters and windows and private showers and indoor plumbing- and electricity where they can plug in their chargers etc. They have 1-2 counselors and spend about 1/2 of their time indoors in a gym or cabin and cafeteria and 1/2 outside playing competitive games and walking to and from events. There is a full band and concert setup stage and lighting projector screens and fog machine in a carpeted multi-use room and media is managed with professional state of the art equipment.
I really enjoyed the low tech approach to the camp experience, and appreciated how different it was from home life as a teen. Now that technology is integral to so many parts of my life, in some ways it is good to learn about God in that context. The only consistent concern I have is how effective people can be engaged the farther they are from the leaders of the music. How much can you connect with a person leading worship music when 199 others are there to catch in your peripheral vision? At what point does worship leading become a christian rock concert? I believe that there is a place and a reason for all of these things to exist, but have been thinking about how youth ministry may be missing the tougher to implement parts of ministry such as direct mentoring. Not just to live holy lives and strive for purity and seek God through time alone reading and praying, but to be a big brother or sister to teens. To be available is the most valueable resource to the average teen, (if an average teen ever existed). I write this because this is what I see lacking to a degree in my own ministry, the personal time spent with individuals that communicates, ‘I really like you’ and not just , ‘i am doing my job’. I like the teens I work with, and sometimes think about how much more effectively I could teach certain things with just a little more time with each one.
I also have a role as a father. I do believe that this role is above my role as a youth leader, because what a hypocrite would I be to put aside my own children and wife to pursue a role of spiritual mentor? A big one. Thankfully my wife is also very on board with youth ministry and we are likeminded in a desire to see these teens thrive in life, so here is not much disagreement on our purposes. I feel we are more and more like one person as time passes in some ways. At some point, I have to acknowledge that I can’t be around forever to lead a youth group, so I am thinking about how to prepare teens and others to not be dependent on Karyn and myself for what to do next. I want to encourage others to own the purposes they have been given and come up with ideas of their own to try out to complete those missions and goals unguided by me, but by the wisdom and discernment given to them by God. I also hope to have all of the other parts of the church working smoothly with each other with the youth group, and not as such seperate entities that seldom interface.
Right now I want to focus on having scheduled moments to connect with each of my children (and my wife) as individuals, and keep looking for more people I can trust to help with the teens and help keep me accountable for the goals I have set for myself to stay living on purpose and be the best I can be with God’s help.
I don’t feel effective at times, so I would appreciate your prayers of support, if you would put in a word for me next time you talk with our Father.
I am encouraged by recent sermons delivered to my iPhone from Arcade Wesleyan Church in Sacramento, and am really excited about what they are doing, listening attentively. Also a new podcast about living called “The Existence Project” has been fun to hear from.
I hope nobody thinks I have a problem with Christian Rock Concerts, or people making a living in ministry, but I was just speaking from my own memory of my earlier teenage perspective on things. It informs the way I approach things from time to time.

Photo Walk

(Written a while ago, forgot to finish, publish too)
When I got home yesterday, upon entering my house, I was stunned to smell a strong gasoline odor. I asked Karyn what happened, and found out that she had mowed the lawn and that the mower leaks gas. Confused, I wondered why she would have the mower in the house. She was busy doing tasks walking from here to there and I prodded to figure why the smell was so strong in the house. She said that the mower is in the garage and that she just opened the door to get clothes from the dryer not long ago. I am guessing that she had gotten acclamated to the odor, because she did not seem bothered by it. I suggested that I take the kids outside for a while until the odor dissipated.
She agreed, and I went through the house opening windows and doors, switching our air conditioner from recirculate to ventilate. Within a minute, the atmosphere had been refreshed. The kids were all excited to go for a walk though, so I grabbed my camera and phone and walked with the kids outside.
We were going to walk just around the block, so I wanted the kids to hold each other’s hands while I led them and took a few photos. Josiah, understanding my intent, arranged Noah and Zion with himself to stand in order by height for a posed group shot in front of our van in the driveway.
They walked down the sidewalk precariously strolling, Noah and Zion veering often away from the concrete into the decorative rock landscaping and stumbling, frustrating me a bit, knowing that there would be tears when they fell. I prefer to avoid the tear management problem altogether, if possible. We stopped in front of a field of foxtails, which are a novelty to Josiah, and consequently, Noah, and to a lesser extent, Zion. They plucked a few of them and before boredom was unanimous, we continued on.
Next we saw a curious tree stump, with stakes holding caution/cuidado tape around the sight. I wondered what the warning was about, since I hadn’t thought of a tree stump being where a tree had been for years as something to catch a passerby by dangerous surprise.
After a bit more walking we saw a hydrant. I asked Noah if he knew what it was; he didn’t know. Same question to Josiah, and he was at a loss for the name of it but wanted to assure me that it’s purpose was explainable. “that’s where the firemen put their hose onto to put water on fires” he explained. Not to bypass Zion, I asked her if she knew what it was, and she did not know.
I thought the hydrant looked cool, and I always like my kids in a picture, since a still inanimate life image does not have the lasting value of any image featuring people, and my kids are great examples of people loved and almost always avialable to me.

(lost interest in finishing this, so short ending below:)

…I finished walking around the block and took a few pictures. See my images on Flickr. I am user “ezravision”

Traveling to Denver Colorado

I am on the flight to Denver now. I have no Internet access, because I am at or above 10,000 feet of altitude on southwest airlines. I had two cranberry juice cups and a blueberry breakfast bar distributed by my host. I just got a whiff of what smells like nail polish. I hope there is not someone on this plane actually applying nail polish while in flight. I really have a strong dislike for the smells common in beauty salons.