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Posts Tagged ‘iPhone’

“Can you hear me now…” AT&T

Monday, July 16th, 2012

 

You know those TV cop shows, when the detective is outnumbered by the bad guys and is in the basement of some derelict building, and calls for backup which usually arrives just in time. In my case, I would be one dead cop, because my iPhone is linked to AT&T, and I would probably get a signal that said “no service” or “network busy,” or “call failed” – the most common occurrence. So I’m amused when I see on TV or in a movie people having no trouble in communicating on their cell phones with instant response, clear messages, and no “can you hear me now?”

My AT&T service is beyond a joke. My colleagues and I office in one of the most prestigious Class A buildings in Chicago, built in the early 1990s. All of us who use the iPhone with AT&T have difficulty in making connections. Our landlords had written to us many months ago, advising that AT&T would be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade their systems so we could enjoy a better service within the building. So far nothing has been achieved.  In fact on making recent enquiries we find that the work hasn’t even started. I’m no better off at home. I have poor performance on my cell phone within my own house and no connection in my yard or in the streets around my house. Complaints to AT&T, who always respond politely and courteously, as if their personnel are trained to deal with protests about their poor service, confirm that they do not have adequate towers within our area to service our needs. Driving from my home to downtown Chicago invariably results in dropped calls when I use my Bluetooth connection.  Very frustrating!

However nothing can match the poor performance of AT&T in international markets.  I have just received a massive bill for $888, which covered a period during which I was travelling in Europe and in particular the Baltic countries. I had paid for 50 MB Global add-on at a cost of $24.99, plus data unlimited at a cost of $30, plus AT&T world connect $3.99 and AT&T world traveler at $5.99.  All of this however was to no avail. I was billed for 343 minutes of roaming charges at a cost of $599.17.  The main problem was that I was unable to retrieve my e-mails in most countries I visited, and I resorted to phone calls back to the US.  When I put on my data roaming, the little icon went round and round minute-after-minute but never connected. This is a frustrating experience. I only retrieved my e-mails by finding a Wi-Fi café in the cities that we visited. I was instructed to turn off data roaming when not in use. Firstly, you have to remember to do that on every occasion; and, secondly sometimes when you turn it off, it comes back on. The telephone service is hardly better. On many occasions a “no service available in this area” appears.  But my wife’s T-Mobile Blackberry worked perfectly.  She paid a total cost of $19.99 and had no trouble retrieving e-mails or making calls. We were often standing in the same location while she had a clear connection to the US and I couldn’t get through, or she could receive all her emails and I got none.

When I told my sorry tale to my European friends and family they invariably laugh.  It is hard for them to believe that, in this day and age, AT&T, the leading US phone provider, is unable to service my calls or provide email connections.  As one friend said in London, “What is happening in America? The US used to lead the world, but is now falling behind most developed countries.” This applies in many areas – transportation, education and communications and is regrettably true.

Wake up America, before it is too late.

 

Ellis M. Goodman, author of Bear Any Burden: www.bearanyburden.com

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Jobs (Steve) and jobs (US)

Monday, October 17th, 2011
Steve Jobs shows off iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worl...

Image via Wikipedia

By Ellis Goodman

It seems the whole world has mourned the passing of Steve Jobs at the age of 56.  Not surprising when you see how the foresight, innovation and invention of this one man and his company – Apple Inc – has transformed the world as we know it.  Steve Jobs was undoubtedly the world’s most influential businessman of the last 20 years.

He has given us the user-friendly Mac Computer, the iPod, the iPad, and the iPhone, all of which have revolutionized communications and, in the process, have created new industries and destroyed others.  His mission was not to find out what consumers wanted, but to tell them what they should have and, in the process, he has changed our world.  There is a million times more computer power in one hand-held iPhone device than there was in the computer that NASA used to launch Apollo 13.   That is how far we have come. 

The iPhone and the iPad have become the partners of globalization, allowing us to communicate instantly around the world, receive and send information, and allow businessmen to function 24/7.  These devices also allow us to photo, video, and video conference with each other, as well as adding thousands of application options – everything from currency translation to flight information, to weather conditions, to playing games across the world with your children and grandchildren.  This free flow of information has also had a major impact on world politics by making it increasingly difficult for authoritarian regimes to control the flow of information, allowing whole populations to rise up in revolution, protests and demonstrations, to remove leaders and overcome oppressive governments and dictators.

The global success of Apple Inc over the past decade and the enormous profitability resulting from the introductions of ever-increasingly innovative devices, has made this American company one of the most profitable and successful in the world.  The stock market valuation of the company exceeds $350 billion.  The company’s cash on hand – multi-billions of dollars – exceed the reserves of many sovereign states around the world.  What a stunning tribute to the technological creativity and marketing skills of the USA.  In past times, this great American company would be a driving force for American jobs and American productivity.  But not now unfortunately.  Apple Inc outsources the vast majority of its manufacturing processes, primarily to Asia – China and Japan.  The cost of sales in the year to June 2011 totaled some $64 billion, nearly all paid to Apple’s outsourcing partners.  We can only imagine what an impact $64 billion of American production would have on the future of American workers, their lives and families. 

Of course Apple has created these outsourcing partnerships around the world to obtain their products at the best possible prices, to maximize their profitability and to be able to compete with their many competitors.  Maybe these outsourcing arrangements would be less attractive if China would allow their currency to float at probably 20% or more than the current valuation against the dollar.  In those circumstances, maybe Apple Inc would have considered or would still consider producing their products in the U.S.  One thing is certain however, until such time as we can find a solution to the issue of how we bring jobs back to America, our economy will continue to stagnate, and the decline in the standard of living will bring further suffering to the American people.

Steve Jobs and Apple Inc have had an incredible success and they’re only just at the beginning.  It is impossible to contemplate the changes in technology that will take place in the next 20 years.  How much more satisfying this success would have been if Jobs had been able to provide jobs in America.

Ellis M. Goodman, author of Bear Any Burden: www.bearanyburden.com

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A New Toy

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

By Jian Ping

 

My new toy

Two weeks ago, I bought a MacBook Pro laptop, completing my shifting to Apple products from iPhone, iPad, and finally a computer.

 

The latest step was made necessary by my new initiative to release books I had acquired and will continue to acquire from publisher(s) in China. I’m excited to make my contribution in bridging cultural differences and promoting cross-cultural communications/understanding by releasing books under MoraQuest, the company I founded two years ago.

The first book I selected during my June trip to China was titled China in the Next 30 Years, a wonderful collection of essays written by more than a dozen Chinese and Western scholars who predict the economic, political, and agricultural development of China in 30 years. I found it very informative and the perspectives from both Chinese and Westerners provided various balanced and in-depth views.

 

A powerful tool

Armed with my new toy, I learned the basics of page layout and cover design by using Pages, the equivalent of Word in Microsoft Office. I took one-to-one tutoring at the Apple Store on Michigan Avenue and spent hours laboring over templates and graphics and the color “inspector”. I must admit I was and still am quite “technology” challenged. I put aside everything else, including blogging, and “fought” my through step of the way, day and night. For two weeks, I slept four or five hours a day. After many trials and errors. I finally created a file with hyperlinks that would allow readers to click on the table of contents in PDF or ePub files, the basic requirements to release the title in digital format at the three key e-retailers, namely, Amazon, B&N.com and iStore. I’ve made one round of revision shortly after loading up the files. There are still minor issues, I’m sure, that will be brought to my attention. But the digital book is available for sale online now!

 

 

A new release in digital format

A few people who read the book generously endorsed it, including Robert Herbold, retired COO of Microsoft. Mr. Herbold wrote in his testimonial: “China has made huge progress over the past 30 years. In this book, some of the world’s best visionaries examine if and how China can now transition to a genuine global leader. I highly recommend this very interesting collection of viewpoints.”

 

My new toy has helped me embark on a new endeavor. I’ve acquired two more books focused on China issues, mostly its political and democratic systems. They were both written by Westerners and were quite critical of China. I am impressed that these books were released in China, in both Chinese and English. If my newly learned skills doesn’t fail me, I should be able to release these books in the next few weeks.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit www.mulberrychild.com, www.moraquest.com for more information. Mulberry Child has been made into a feature-length documentary film by award-winning director Susan Morgan Cooper and will be released in 2011.

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My iPhone & Me

Monday, November 8th, 2010
Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

By:  Ellis Goodman

I’m far too old to be a “geek” or a “nerd,” but in my own fashion I have attempted to adapt to modern technologies.  Having spent over 50+ years communicating through letters, I now communicate by emails. Instead of encyclopedias and libraries, I use my computer for research – Google or whatever.   I have my Mac, my iPod and of course my – “never-leave-home without it” – iPhone.  I even use DragonSpeak for my writing. 

However with all these modern amenities, I’m not quite comfortable living in this high-tech world.  Last year at Christmas time, my daughter, who lives in Paris, gave me a printed tee-shirt on which was recorded “I think my phone must be broken – it’s not working!”  This was a not too subtle swipe at my battles with technology, and it is true to some extent.  I love my iPhone.  I love my Apps (although I only have those which are free).  I love receiving text messages and really value my access to my business emails, especially when I’m traveling domestically or abroad. 

Like all iPhone owners at the present time, I am a customer of AT&T.  I would love my iPhone even more if I could only get the damn thing to work and give me an uninterrupted and reliable service.  But regrettably, this is not my experience.

Why is it my phone worked perfectly at The Great Wall of China, at the Pyramids in Egypt, in the Metro deep under the streets of Paris, and in ancient monuments in London, but … I can’t get it to work in my house, and only with difficulty in my Chicago downtown office building.  Driving the twenty-five miles into work from my home outside Chicago, is a nightmare of dropped calls, and misdirected connections.  Even my emails and App uses are plagued by “searching for connections” and information not downloaded from the server. 

European friends have an uncomprehending look when I describe these problems in the U.S., which they still believe is a world leader in high-tech products (of course that is no longer true).  And, when I see movies or TV dramas depicting instantly communicated calls in often life-saving circumstances, I feel a complete pang of jealously.  I know that, if I was in one of those life-or-death situations and tried to use my phone, I would get “telephone not registered,” “circuits are busy,” or just plain nothing.  I would not be the one to save the world or indeed myself using my iPhone.

I’m not sure whether this experience is unique to me or applies to a vast number of AT&T iPhone users.  I know there have been many press reports about the AT&T system being overwhelmed by the usage factor.  When I have phoned AT&T, which I’ve tried on a number of occasions, I always get an ultra polite assistant on the other end who assures me that there should be nothing wrong with my phone, that there are no towers “down” in my area, and that maybe it’s a problem with my telephone. 

I even took my phone to an Apple store, where it had a complete diagnostic test, similar to an MRI and a brain scan as far as I could see, and they agreed that the number of dropped calls was far in excess of what they should be.  Accordingly, I got a brand new phone, which I thought was very generous of them.  However some months later, my problems with AT&T have still not improved.

So, maybe it has nothing to do with not being a “geek” or a “nerd.  Perhaps it’s true – my telephone must be broken – “it’s not working!!”

 

Ellis M. Goodman, author of Bear Any Burden: www.bearanyburden.com

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The iPod Gap…

Monday, April 20th, 2009
Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Despite my advancing years, I thought I was reasonably high tech.  After all, I had my MAC Computer, my iPod where I listend to my music, and more recently my iPhone, which provides me with emails wherever I am in the world.  However, my fifteen-year-old grandson, Toby, who was recently visiting me from London, put me in my place.

I had already put some additional applications on my iPhone – stock market quotations, weather, etc.   But, he quickly informed me that there were many Apps that I could obtain free of charge and proceeded to add these to my iPhone capabilities – Currency Exchange Rates, MSNBC, ESPN, BBC, Google, The New York Times, movies, public radio, Google Earth, Wi–Fi Finder, and something called “Shazam,” which apparently can tell you the name of a tune that you might hear while you’re out and about but just can’t remember.  To me, these are miracles indeed.

However, Toby went further.  He told me that, in addition to listening to his iTunes, he also downloads Podcasts of news programs and other radio shows, and also purchases Audible books.  Apparently sometimes in the evenings when he’s going to bed, he prefers to listen to a book rather than music.  I found this encouraging.  Furthermore, he recommended that I should put my recent novel – “Bear Any Burden” – on Audible books, and stated that “even though it’s not a bestseller, if you price it below many of the popular books, you should get some customers.”  Probably sound advice.  I’m going to look into it.

So even though I thought I knew what I was doing with my iPod and IPhone, it appears that, as with much modern technology, there is a significant generation gap.  I’ve got a long way to go to catch up.

All this information at my fingertips is really wonderful, and I must confess that I’m enjoying it.  But even though I have now Apps galore, I wonder when will I have time to use them all?

Ellis M. Goodman, author of Bear Any Burden: www.bearanyburden.com

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