I’ve been a big fan of Microsoft’s two factor authentication (2FA) client since day one and I’m also one of the tester’s. My only concern, as I wrote nearly a year ago in https://blogs.msmvps.com/connectedhome/2017/05/27/multi-factor-authentication-app-backup-and-usage-strategies/ is what might happen if my iPhone was damaged and I needed a quick replacement. That concern is no more! Backup and Recovery is rolling out for iOS testers.
Let me first state that I’m getting an iPhone 7. I’m going to buy it from Apple. My prior “contract” which I signed when I traded an iPhone 5 for an iPhone 6 expired when I paid this month’s bill and I am off contract.
It isn’t that I plan to switch carriers, as Verizon is the only real choice where I’m located. AT&T doesn’t even give one bar inside my home. I want the freedom to decide my own destiny so to speak. Verizon, on the other hand, seems to be using training that requires their store agents to use a sledgehammer approach when customers ask about their options and want to make changes.
I can’t remember ever having such a hard time getting what I wanted and getting a sales person to stop hammering me with details of something I indicated up front I had no interest in. (And getting my intelligence questioned to boot.)
On Thursday, I went to one of the corporate Verizon Stores to discuss what plans were available. I brought a print out with me so that it was crystal clear what I was interested in:
After waiting for a store rep (busy, longish wait, others were there with the same questions) on Thursday, a rep came over and asked what I wanted. I said, “ I’m going to be buying an iPhone 7 from Apple, not Verizon. I’m checking to see if there are any hidden charges if I sign up for the “new Verizon Plan” and keep my tablet (already activated) on it and get the iPhone 7 for the Apple Store at the Mall and activate it there and I don’t want a contract with Verizon”. He checked my account and confirmed I was “off contract’’” and launched into a sales pitch for trading my phone (iPhone 6) and getting a free iPhone 7. I said (nicely) “I already told you I wasn’t interested in this trade up two year contract. I want to talk about any hidden charges on the New Verizon Plan”.
The rep checks some stuff on his tablet and then says “You can buy the iPhone 7 from us on a device plan for $27.04 a month. It’s not the same as the old contract”. I stood up and said “You aren’t listening to me. I’m not buying a phone from Verizon”. He then decides to tell me “You can trade in your iPhone 6 for a $200 credit that you can apply to accessories”. I tell him that this is just another ‘shell’ for a 24 month contract. He confirms this is true. I want to smack this guy upside the head. I restrain myself. I decide to leave the store and come back the next day.
So yesterday (Friday), I return the the Verizon store and a different rep waits on me. I still have my piece of paper (the above print out) and I tell her I don’t want to buy an iPhone 7 from VZW, lease one, trade in anything and all I want to do is switch to the new Verizon Plan with MY CURRENT DEVICES, as I am off contract and eligible. She launches into a sales speech about how I can trade in my iPhone 6. I tell her bluntly to STFU as I already stated I was not interested. Then she starts with the device payment plan. I ask her if she has actually listened to what I told her. (Apparently not.)
I stand my ground, I tell her I want to switch to the new Verizon Plan. She taps some stuff into her tablet and tells me she can make it effective with my next billing period. She gives me figures. I tell her I’m off contract and it would save me $35 to switch today. She then tells me that THAT would involved a pro-rated bill and that I would have trouble understanding it. I stand up again, and restrain from physical violence and tell her that it is uncalled for to question anyone’s intelligence or math skills and to make the switch or get a manager over that will do it. She tries one more time to sign me up for device payment or a contract. She asks me why I won’t take a contract or buy a phone from VZW or select device payment. And I tell her it is none of her business.
She finally sets up the plan I want and pushes the buttons to make it happen. She tells me she is making a note in my account that I probably will be complaining about a pro-rated bill that I don’t understand. Unbelievable. Exhausting.
Just yesterday I was away from home and thinking I needed to add a few things to my Alexa powered shopping list and wishing there was an easy way to do this without typing into the Alexa App on my iPhone or using a web browser on my tablet. And I’ve often cursed out Siri for not turning on lights when I’ve summoned her to action this from a distance using HomeKit via my Apple TV.
Today I discovered Lexi –a $5 iOS app that changed everything. Press and hold the button, watch the animation, add items to my shopping list, turn lights on or off. This is Alexa “on the road”, giving me control of my Connected Home when I’m miles away from home.
If you are on the fence about buying an Amazon Echo, you can use this App to try out many of the features of Alexa, as this app will handle shopping lists, queries and many of the Alexa Skills. (But not Amazon Music). And I truly think every home should be Alexa powered.
The open Alexa ecosystem (and it really is an ecosystem) makes the Amazon Echo a really compelling Smart Home controller and virtual assistant. I’m continually amazed and pleased by how developers, like the Lexi team, are extending the Alexa experience and making my life so easy (and fun).
Woo. Here’s a nice and long overdue surprise. Verizon has quietly rolled out the feature called HD Calling and the iPhone 6 is one of the devices capable of using this feature. Finally.
Go to settings, Cellular, and drill down. Check off Voice & Data (Data Only is probably checked).
You’ll see a spinning cursor as it looks like turning it on here automatically provisions this feature in your Verizon account. Once the cursor stops:
Just checked my account online and saw:
So if you’re using LTE, you now should have the same dual capabilities carriers like AT&T have had for years. The voice quality is like being in the same room. And I can browse the web at the same time.
The included HTML Gallery template in Lightroom 5 is too simplistic for my tastes and I started looking around for web gallery plugins. I viewed a lot of demos and used some trials where available. The one that seemed the most useful to me was Turning Gates TTG CE3 Gallery plugin but I couldn’t find a trial, so I spent a few hours looking at demos. Based on what I saw, the $25 price seemed like a bargain.
The initial learning curve on this plugin took a couple of hours, and I certainly haven’t explored or used all the features, but once I had figured out what I wanted and started saving user templates, actually building the site (V1, usuable but not the final) from already saved collections was easy and fast. And it was far better in V1 form than the one created in Adobe Muse, so it is now online. It’s hosted on a Microsoft IIS Sharepoint public facing server, so while there are some neat looking auto indexing features, they aren’t available to me since they rely on PHP.
The site now works beautifully with touch enabled computers and devices. The galleries are swipable. Even on a non touch computer, you can use a mouse to drag swipe through each gallery (or use the nav arrows). Included in the functionality is a mobile version.
When entering the site with my iPhone, a fast loading screen (left, below) is displayed. Selecting the left icon displays the menu (right, below). Selecting the icon on the right displays the page, like the two above.
Once a specific Gallery is selected (such as Alive) you can view either portrait or landscape and can swipe through the current gallery. The “X” returns to the previous screen.
I’m thrilled with this Lightroom plugin and the first version of my new personal site. And it can only get better as I work on V.next.