Archive for August, 2009

1TB for under 6¢ per GB…again!

Previously on, I found the shocking deal of a $54.99 1TB hard disk. Well, that deal is gone however that same drive, coupled with a new Newegg promotion, is nearly as good…better for folks who want to buy more than a single drive.

The super deal this time: Windows Live…er…Bing Cash Back. It’s how I got my Vizio VS42LF TV for about $490 (after $198 in cash back, a 10% PayPal discount and a few bucks in credit card rewards) and it’s how you can nab magnetic storage for under 5¢ per GB. In order to get this discount, just go here (a Bing search for “newegg”) and click the link next to the Bing Cashback icon.

Now you’re locked into a session that will give you 10% cashback (via Bing; you’ll have to get a Bing cashback account there but it’s not a huge deal) on pretty much whatever you buy on Newegg. You can now mosey on over here and grab up to five drives at the net price (once the limit-five-per-household rebate and the up-to-sixty-days Bing cash back are in) of just $57.49 apiece, or roughly 5.75¢ per GB. Solid.

Just remember to claim your cash back, to mail in your rebate(s) before the end of September and to grab the drives either by the end of this month or before they sell out again, whichever comes first!

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State Of The Internet, Fredericksburg, TX

Interesting stuff happening lately about internet service in this area:

  1. My mom saw a Verizon truck in the county fair parade today (I didn’t go; saw no need and was tired). The truck has “High Speed Internet coming soon!” or similar painted on te side. This is DSL, not FiOS (Verizon always refers to their fiber offering by its trademarked name). However from what I hear Verizon’s DSL release is just a ploy to drive up the sale cost of their system here; Fredericksburg isn’t a large metropolitan area, and there are too mayn bridged taps and other phone system anomaies here for DSL to reach beyond a small part of town. At least that’s what the scuttlebutt says. My prediction: Verizon offers some flavor of DSL to folks who can currently get Windstream DSL, then sells the system to whoever will take it, using the “we have DSL in our central office” argument to jack the price up slightly above what the system is worth.
  2. Bee Creek Communications, the local our-hands-are-tied-and-if-anyone-competes-with-us-we-lose wireless ISP, was in the parade today as well. They also have a third-of-a-page ad in the paper advertising free installation to new customers until September 15th. A few years ago an installation with similar equipment would have run you around $220. The problem here is that their network is already over capacity in some areas, they’re spread too thinly in terms of manpower and their speeds are the stuff of yesteryear, barely competitive with satellite internet (though their monthly transfer caps are higher). The service also requires a two-year contract with a $125 early termination fee. If you want a one-year agreement service will run you another $10 per month. In short, don’t buy. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Perfect Set Top Box

So I’ve got some crazy ideas about launching a fiber-optic triple play operator somewhere. Or maybe someone else has those ideas and I’m just throwing in my own ideas. Now the hardest “play” would be TV, once you’ve got all your infrastructure in place. Internet is pretty much a given, as is VoIP; just white-label a solution from someone who already does it well (VOIPo for example, or so I hear). But with TV you have to not only make deals with all your content providers, but also figure out how you’re going to get video from point A (the content providers) to point B (subscribers’ TVs). Cable providers have fallen down on this a bit with utterly crappy set top boxes. Sat providers are a good bit better, as are TelcoTV providers (like U-Verse and FiOS) though, except in the case of FiOS, a better set top box goes hand in hand with lower picture quality. Which is unfortunate.

So the big question in my mind is, how would I design the perfect set top box, from both a consumer and a provider point of view? Here are some specs I came up with: Read the rest of this entry »

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The Latest Look at Pocket

Last Saturday I grabbed a UTStarCom CDM7025 with a month of service for $39 plus tax, plus $5 in “Value Pocket” funds from Pocket Communications’ retail outlet in Boerne, TX. Today I returned the phone; reception on that particular handset was poor and there wasn’t a comparably-priced model in stock at my Fredericksburg HEB Pocket kiosk. In the interim though I learned a few things about the company, stuff that’s changed since I last used their service more than two years ago…

  1. Pocket can now “flash” phones at all of their locations, as long as their software is working correctly. The price: free. The upside: you can take your old name-your-CDMA-carrier phone and plunk it down on Pocket’s network without having to shell out for one of the company’s own phone models. The downside: you may not get data access on a non-Pocket phone, depending on the model.
  2. Pocket’s roaming option, available for 19¢ per minute or $5 per month for 50 minutes, mainly picks Verizon as the out-of-area provider. This hapens whenever the Pocket phone can’t pick up a “native” signal, not just if you’re out of Pocket’s licensed service area. This is a good thing in areas where Pocket doesn’t have towers, but at that point you’re limited by how good your phone is at receiving signals.
  3. The UTStarCom 7025, even with its pull-up antenna, was bested by my parents’ Nokia 2126i internal-antenna Tracfones in the reception department. So if you want a Pocket phone with good reception for $39, consider your options narrowed. Read the rest of this entry »

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1TB for $54.99

UPDATE 2: The 1TB Hitachi drives are back on sale for $64.99 after a rebate which will expire on the 31st. Not 5.5¢ per GB, but not too bad either. No promo code though.

UPDATE: Newegg (prematurely as far as I can see, I might add) ended the coupon promo, and the Hitachi drives are now all sold out. Nice run though. Still, Newegg has some cheap drives, like this Seagate 1.5TB $109.99 beaut’. Just remember that life’s a little slower when you want more bits for the buck, that drive runs at a mere 5900 RPMs.

Want some cheap internal storage? Don’t mind using Hitachi for said storage? Then check out the below:

But wait, it gets better. In addition to the $10 mail-in rebate, you can get another 10% off with the coupon code hddsale15.

The result: a full terabyte of storage for a mere $54.99 shipped after rebate. That’s a teeny 5.5¢ per GB.

Just keep in mind that the window of opportunity for the rebate and the promo code ends at midnight on Monday the 17th. After which things are back up to normal with 1TB drives bottoming out at about $75.

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WiFindings, August 10th

Just came home from HEB in town. Decided to open up iStumbler shortly after embarking. Didn’t see a whole lot of consumer wireless networks, but wasn’t particularly looking for them. I did, however, see a good portion of the SSIDs of my ISP, Bee Creek Communications. So in about ten minutes I gathered information on five different towers, with eleven different discrete SSIDs. I know I’m missing one or two, but that’s all my laptop (a white MacBook, nothing special) picked up. You’ll probably see most posts about this later as I get back into wardriving (though I don’t actually connect to these networks…just drive by them).

So below are the APs my computer “saw”, along with their channels. To my knowledge, all SSIDs of similar naming (e.g. North Fbg. A and D) are on the same tower, just on different radios/antennas. Also, to my knowledge my provider only uses 20 MHz channels to deploy its service, rather than economizing on spectrum by using smaller bandwidths. So if they’re broadcasting on channel 1 (this is all 2.4 GHz stuff) then channels 1-4 are all at least partially occupied. See this diagram for more details.

SSID – Channel
Hayden Ranch – 9
Hospital A – 9
Hospital B – 7
Grapetown – 11
Grapetown B – 2
Morris Ranch – 3
Morris Ranch B – 7
North Fbg. A – 7
North Fbg. B – 1
North Fbg. C – 11
North Fbg. D – 4

Note that on the North Fbg. tower all frequencies are used in the 2.4 GHz band. Not the best use of spectrum, I’d say…

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Re: The Case Against Apple

So Jason Calacanis wrote a newsletter/blog post yesterday about how Apple is becoming big, bad, evil, etc. He had some questions at the end. I emailed him my thoughts, but they probably won’t get published that way. So here they are, in reworked form.

Preliminary Notes

Verizon doesn’t use SIM cards. Neither does Sprint. While I think it’d be awesome to see a dual-radio network-agnostic iPhone (like the Blackberry Storm and some new HTC units) I don’t foresee that happening. As for a dual CDMA radio setup that would “bond” two networks together for fast downloads, not gonna happen. The engineering and billing logistics just don’t work out. The best that’ll realistically happen is either an LTE iPhone (I doubt it’ll come out for WiMAX unfortunately) or *possibly* an iPhone “world phone” with CDMA and GSM/HSPA a la the Blackberry Storm if Verizon gets the new exclusive.

Now that that’s off my, and Mike Rundle’s, chest…

Q: Do you think Apple would be more, or less, successful if they adopted a more open strategy (i.e. allowing other MP3 players in iTunes)?

A: At worst, they’d be just as successful. They might be forced to compete a little more on features, especially on the Mac side (where there’s no Windows Media Player and thus no simple way to sync music with a non-iTunes-supported player). However the influx of people using third-party devices on iTunes would make up for any people who might pick a $30 other-brand MP3 player over Apple’s own. Not like those people would buy an iPod in the first place…

Read the rest of this entry »

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