Monthly Archives: July 2009

  • zBoost To The Rescue!

    July 31, 2009 - Leave a Comment

    Greetings from the Wi-Ex customer support! I'm Roman and I help our customers  make their zBoost purchases and product set-up as smooth and carefree as possible. I really love helping our customers to use their cell phones and aircards where they weren’t able to use them before.

    ViewFromLakehouseThis past weekend I attended our family reunion in the mountains of Virginia. The reunion took place at Smith Mountain Lake (about a one hour Southeast of Roanoke). As you can probably imagine the cell phone signal was marginal at best because it is a very rural and hilly area.

    On my hour long drive from the airport to the lake house I noticed that my cell phone signal was getting weaker and weaker the further I drove. I also noticed that the TV antennas were getting larger and larger the further I drove from town. I figured that the towers for television signal were getting farther away so the towers for cell phone signal must be getting farther away as well.

    After a few failed text messages and dropped calls I was forced to re-calculate my route to find the closest town in order to place consistent calls and texts. Because of this weak signal zone I started to grow a tad perturbed with the whole situation. I thought, "Wow, I really should have brought our YX230 (car unit) along so I could pick up a better signal and experience more consistent calls and texts!"

    At the lake house, all of my cousins, aunts, uncles and other relatives brought their cell phones to keep in touch with friends and family while they were away from home. It seemed that everyone in the family had a cell phone! Even my 14 year old cousins had cell phones! I quickly noticed that everyone had to go outside to use their phones to place calls or place their phones on a window sill so they could receive incoming calls and texts. The family knew I worked for Wi-Ex and started to joke that I should have brought one of our zBoost products for a temporary install to help with signal for the weekend.

    Living in the city of Atlanta, I’ve never really experienced dead spots and weak signal zones so this was a relatively new experience for me. This journey helped me to further understand the frustration that many cell phones users experience on a day to day basis when they are forced to hang of a window or go outside every time they want to use their phone.

    As a Technical Support Rep for Wi-Ex, I assist customers in their installation and optimization of their new zBoost products. The most important aspect of my technical support position involves being a sort of  'detective' by gathering information and figuring out the best way to setup our products and solve installation issues. I learned very early that being a good listener and being flexible are the most important parts of my technical support position. Each call and email that I handle is different and each customer is unique. Some customers want quick and simple answers about products that they are inquiring about, while others have installations that are a bit more involved and require much more time and effort.

    Some of the most interesting calls we receive involve zBoost installations in unique places. I have assisted customers with the set-up of our products in houseboats, motor homes, yachts and airplane hangars. We even had an installation inside of a cave that was converted into an underground home! Every installation is unique in its own way and we use our detailed knowledge of our products to maximize the performance for each customer and location.

    Our most common questions deal with the setup of our home cell phone signal boosters. The most frequent questions relate to the basic set-up of our most popular zBoost product, the YX510 dual band cell phone signal booster. With these units the most important set-up requirement involves mounting the base unit antenna and outdoor signal antenna with at least 15 feet of vertical separation between them. Another important set-up requirement involves separating the outdoor signal antenna 2-3 feet from metal in any direction.

    We receive tons of calls from customers thanking us for the product and wishing that we had offered it many years ago. Some customers tell us that they have been able to disconnect their landlines because they are now able to get a strong enough cell signal inside their homes. zBoost to the rescue! Personally, I disconnected my landline in 2001 and it makes me so glad that I don’t have to shell out $30 each month for a service that I didn’t really use in the first place. I made some calculations and figured out that I would have spent $2880 over the past 8 years if I had continued to pay for landline phone service each month. Many of our customers are able to enjoy this same type of savings when they disconnect their landline telephone service after hooking up one of our zBoost products.

    As the word of mouth for our company spreads, we communicate with customers all over the US and now overseas with our new International product line! Please call us in the customer support department at: 1-800-871-1612. When you call feel free to ask for Roman!

  • Site of the Week: YearbookYourself.com

    July 30, 2009 - Leave a Comment

    Yearbook YourselfHave you ever wondered how different your life would have been if you had been born in a different decade? Would you have the same interests and beliefs, goals and aspirations? You’ll never know the answers to those questions but with YearbookYourself.com, you can now know what you would have looked in any given year.

    YearbookYourself.com is a fun website that puts your face in actual yearbook pictures spanning the 1950s to the 1990s. You can chose whether your face is in standard yearbook photos from the shoulders up or Student Life photos- which include band pictures, AV club, chemistry class and a football team picture.

    Had I graduated high school in 1984, the year I was born, I would have spent hours scrunching and teasing my hair and making sure my bow wasn’t crooked. In 1986, I might have begged my parent’s to let me have one senior portrait in my favorite heavy metal, Motley Crue inspired ensemble. And had I graduated a little earlier in 1978, I might have even been prom queen!

    YearbookYourself copy

    After laughing at what your life might have been, YearbookYourself.com gives you the option to save, email or upload your possible senior picture on to Facebook. Have fun!

  • Summer-Friendly Cell Phones

    July 29, 2009 - Leave a Comment

    Summer is not very technology friendly- the water from the pool, the sand from the beach and the heat from the summer sun, all make a deadly mix for gadgets. Cell phones, which are notorious for getting lost, dropped and broken, also have to add water damage, overheating and sand destruction to the list during the summer. Because of these heightened, summer, cell phones worries, Sascha Segan, from PCMag.com wrote the following article, Summer-Friendly Cell Phones.

    ---

    Summer-Friendly Cell Phones

    By Sascha Segan

    These sand-proof, water-resistant camera phones make great beach buddies.

    Most cell phones hate water. Get a few drops under the case, and that horrible little moisture indicator next to the battery goes red. Next thing you know, your phone doesn't work, and your carrier won't replace it.

    So bringing your phone to the beach can be a risky proposition. The good news is that there are plenty of handsets built specifically for active fun. They're not only great for outdoors, but they're also terrific for the accident-prone and those who work in rough environments.

    The Casio Exilim C721 on Verizon Wireless is the ultimate summer phone. Why? Because it also doubles as a waterproof, 5-megapixel camera with 3X optical zoom and video capture—so you can leave your fragile digital camera at home, too. The Exilim is wrapped in a protective coating so you can shoot underwater. It's also certified to military specs against shock and vibration. If you spend a lot of time at the beach, this phone will be your best friend.

    Starting at $279.99 with a contract, though, the Exilim isn't cheap. Verizon's $129 Casio Gz'One Boulder is also waterproof, and with an even tougher body for a lot less cash. You will, however, have to give up the 5-megapixel camera for a much weaker 1.3-megapixel sensor. Still, for quick snapshots and making calls, this phone is a good value.

    Outdoorsy T-Mobilers should consider the unlocked Sonim XP3.20 Quest, which is the world's toughest phone—a claim I tested thoroughly. It can be tossed around violently, submerged, frozen, hit with a chisel, and used to hammer nails. Even if it does break, it comes with a no-questions-asked replacement guarantee. The Quest model I tested in May isn't on the market yet, but the similar XP3.10 is available now.

    On Sprint, the Nextel i580 is the way to go if you're worried about durability. Bear in mind: It isn't waterproof, it's water-resistant—it'll survive a quick dunk or splash, but you can't completely submerge it. In my tests, it survived freezing, washing, dropping from a second-story window, and getting run over by a sports car. The i580 also has great call quality and a built-in MP3 player.

    AT&T users should go straight for the Motorola Tundra VA76r. This flip phone is not only water-resistant and sand-proof, but it has the best reception and call quality of any AT&T phone we've tested to date. Its 2-megapixel camera takes decent beach shots, and you can pipe music from the Tundra's MP3 player out its beefy speakerphone.

    These tough phones will do more than just serve you through the summer; they'll also withstand autumn mists and winter snow. Compare specs for these phones side-by-side and read the full reviews below.

    Outdoor-Friendly Phones Featured in this Roundup:

    The nation's best beach phone is waterproof and features a 5-megapixel camera with video recording and optical zoom to capture your summer fun.

    Verizon's other waterproof phone has a much lower resolution camera, but it's also much more affordable.

    Not only is the Tundra water and sand resistant, it's got the best call quality of any AT&T phone out there        today.

    A durable, water-resistant case lets this flip phone go beyond its original target market of outdoor workers needing extra-tough gear, to anyone who's around sand and water this summer.

    Hands-on preview. Not rated
    The world's toughest phone isn't officially out on any carrier yet, but it works with AT&T and T-Mobile.

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2349671,00.asp

  • Gerry's Gang

    July 28, 2009 - Leave a Comment

    "entire group copy webCelebrating 80 years of Fun, Style and General Awesomeness!"  This was the back of the T-shirts we made for my Mom's 80th birthday and the front said, "Gerry's Gang".

     My family, Gerry's Gang, was in Amelia Island celebrating my Mom's 80th birthday.  She is a true Yankee Doodle Dandy, born on the 4th of July.  Most 80 year olds with a husband, 5 children, and 12 grandchildren would be considered the family matron, but not my Mom, she is the leader of Gerry's Gang.  Adding to Gerry's gangs are my sibling's spouses, who have been labeled the out-laws rather than the in-laws

     Our 4th of July celebration included all of the above family members except for one grandson who was on a submarine, (We can't say where, because it's a secret.) plus my Mom's older sister and 2 of her nieces and one nephew.  Whew! That was a lot of people, with a lot of cell phones using different types of phones and service providers.

     Thank goodness my sister and brother in law have a zBoost dual band installed in their home.  With over 25 people in their home for most of the weekend, good cell service was a necessity.  We had family members at the beach, on the golf cart, at the beach club and at the house.  Without cell phones and a good cell phone signal it would have been impossible to keep track of everyone's comings and goings. 

    We spent many hours in and around the pool enjoying each other's company and celebrating Gerry, the leader of our Gang.

     P1010049

  • Belief in Ideas

    July 24, 2009 - Leave a Comment

    If I were required to guess off-hand, and without collusion with higher minds, what is the bottom cause of the amazing material and intellectual advancement of the last fifty years, I should guess that it was the modern-born and previously non-existent disposition on the part of men to believe that a new idea can have value.

    Was this said last week, last year or over 100 years ago? 

    It’s appropriate to write on the topic of “believing in new ideas” during the week of the 40th anniversary of landing on the moon. Technology may be a driving force and the internet and smart phones have surely changed the way we communicate, but it probably started with an idea and the openness to that idea.  I have to agree with Mark Twain on his belief in ideas.  (Yes, the quote is over 100 years old and still kicking.) 

    Being in technology marketing, I have witnessed many times, one group of very smart non-believers say something is “impossible” and another group proving them wrong in time.  No magic, no voodoo (that I know of) just belief in an idea and lots of hard work, sleepless nights and determination in figuring out how to bring “the idea” to life. The “believers” don’t always persevere, but they still believe.  I never get bored in the technology industry and I no longer give credit to the voice at the table that says “it’s impossible”.  In fact, just the opposite -  I usually think – ok if we don’t do it, someone else will – the idea has slipped out, now SOMEONE will believe and bring it to life

    At this time, there a product out there that I never thought I would see – I didn’t believe it was possible and it has changed my life.  It’s at the top of my “made my life better” list of products.  I am thinking of a product that I didn’t believe could exist.   No, I am not pitching zBoost – it’s great – and it works and it’s changed my life by keeping me from running to the windows to answer my mobile.  Although zBoost is up there on my list, the top product is the product that I thought was impossible -- the CHI hair straightener.  I’m just saying – it’s amazing and hard to believe that it works! (If you ever saw me on a rainy day, you would know what I mean.)

    So take some time this summer to be open to new ideas and believe.  Go ahead and comment on products that made your life easier.  

    If you want to guest blog – send your thoughts to kpatterson@wi-ex.com .  If you want us to follow you on Twitter, send your info to jarko@wi-ex.com.

  • Site of the Week: eHow.com

    July 23, 2009 - Leave a Comment

    eHoweHow.com is an online community dedicated to providing visitors the ability to research, share, and discuss instructional solutions that help complete day-to-day tasks and projects. eHow.com combines the experiential knowledge of certified experts with the practical knowledge of everyday people to help you discuss, plan, and complete things like How to Save Grocery Money Growing Herbs Indoors, How To Accept a Really, Really Bad Gift, How to Handle Health Insurance if You Lose Your Job, How to Eat Well for Less, How to Format a Hard Drive with Windows XP, and How to Remove a Red Wine Stain.

    eHow has more than 600,000 articles and 160,000 high-quality videos, written and produced by experts, and also, by average people - people who've figured out how to complete a variety of tasks, simple and complex, and are willing to share their knowledge.

    eHow also features How to Install a zBoost YX510. zBoost customers can follow the easy how-to while they set-up their signal booster to ensure a proper installation.

    eHow provides solutions to practically every “How-To” question that affects your life. From Health to Weddings, Legal to Mechanics, eHow.com is the website with all the answers.

  • In the iPhone of a Hurricane

    July 21, 2009 - Leave a Comment

    hurricane_ike10The following is an excerpt from an article, written by iPhone Atlas staffer David W. Martin, documents his experiences with the Apple iPhone and various applications that helped him survive the passing of hurricane Ike through his Southeast Texas community. To read the entire article, go to http://www.iphoneatlas.com/2008/10/14/in-the-iphone-of-the-hurricane/

    Hurricane Ike: Makes life difficult in Southeast Texas

    The winds from Ike, however, were noticed way before the storm made landfall since power was lost several hours before the storm struck the coastline and flooding had already started well before that. The result was the loss of the TV, which is, of course, the best form of communication to have. All of us, after all, like to see it coming, don't we? Weather radar, tornado warnings, bands of rain. In any event, with the loss of power we were also left without landline phone services. I encourage everyone to get and keep a phone handy that does not require electricity for use--the house I took shelter in did not have one. I left mine at home and won't the next time around. However we did have a battery-operated AM/FM radio to listen to local news bulletins. We also had our cell phones that we made sure were fully charged and kept charged for as long as possible.

    I, of course, had my iPhone 3G with me and I had updated it to iPhone OS 2.1 prior to the storm coming. It was fully charged and would prove to be very useful throughout the long night ahead of us. I took some time to look at iPhone OS 2.1 to keep my mind off of things and to work up some topics to write about for iPhone Atlas. The distraction worked fine for a little while until the storm came.

    The storm arrived and we were plunged into darkness relying on battery-operated devices, iPods, laptops, cell phones, lanterns, candles, and flashlights. We'd gone to bed early so that we could all stay up and keep watch when the storm came. Some people might laugh about that, but the problem with these storms is that they have a tremendous amount of wind, rain, and most of all, tornados. If we had to leave in a hurry to seek shelter elsewhere, we'd have to act fast. So we needed to be wide awake. No worries there; Ike's fury took care of that part.

    When Ike was in full force around us and with the power out, I sought a means of contacting the outside world and discovered that my iPhone was working and able to make a data connection to AT&T's network. I, of course, turned off the features on the phone that I did not require such as 3G and Push, so I could get the most out of my batteries in the iPhone. Much to my surprise the phone maintained a connection throughout the whole ordeal. Besides having the AM/FM radio, I had a very useful tool for keeping informed about what was going on around me during the storm.

    In the eye of the storm

    One thing to note at this point was that since the storm landed in Galveston we not only got hit by it once, but twice. The reason is simple; remember that hurricanes are circular so we got the first part of the circle followed by the dead calm of the eye of the storm--where we took time to assess damage, and then the second part came through, which seemed worse than the first part. It was really amazing to go from fierce to calm, and back to fierce again. Wow. However, it was finally over hours later.

    How the iPhone 3G helped

    So, now let me give you a rundown of how the iPhone 3G turned out to be an invaluable tool. Sure, most of us complain about it for this and that, but it really saved the day this time around. It actually worked as I expected it to. The bonus was the surprise, at least for me, that AT&T's network was intact during the storm.

    The biggest and most helpful apps used during the duration of the storm were: Palringo, SMS, MySpace, Twitterific, and Weatherbug. Click one of the preceding links to read about an app we've covered before. SMS is the standard SMS Texting App that Apple provides for the iPhone. It was used to communicate with family and friends throughout the area and far away.

    Reflections after the storm

    After going through the ordeal of the hurricane, I again looked at the App Store and with the help of Ben Wilson, my editor, I discovered some other apps in the iTunes store that I will have ready for the next emergency, whether it is a storm or something else. They are: MyWeather, 1st Responder, and WunderRadio. I was also working on a review of the zBoost YX510 a Wi-Ex cell phone repeater prior to the hurricane, which helped as I'll explain shortly after the storm had passed.

    Wi-Ex ZBoost YX510-PCS-CEL

    The Wi-Ex zBoost YX510-PCS-CEL cell phone signal extender actually improves your cell phone's reception of cellular radio signals. This device proved to be very handy after Hurricane Ike had passed and there was some obvious damage to cellular infrastructure due to flooding and loss of power due to the water, wind, or both.

    The YX510 successfully pulled in cellular signals from other towers and helped keep us connected via iPhone when others were experiencing signal reception problems. I will be covering this device in detail in a later review, but my initial testing was very promising considering the conditions I was testing the device in.

    Calm weather

    Southeast Texas is enjoying calm weather again and now you know the story about my experiences during the storm and the fact that the iPhone 3G made a good addition to my hurricane emergency kit.

    I was one of the lucky ones since we sustained minor damage to our shelter. We came through better than most people. My own home was unscathed this time around. I was truly blessed.

  • Money Saving Tips

    July 20, 2009 - Leave a Comment

    July 2009 004If you follow any financial news, the constant debate is whether the recession is beginning to end or if there is another shoe to drop.  I'm not sure of the answer to that debate, but I know at most homes we are all feeling the squeeze in our daily expenses.

     Back in January, my family began the process of examining our monthly expenditures, looking for places to cut.  I'm embarrassed to say there was a lot of fat in our spending.  Our first step was to examine our monthly reoccurring charges.  As a result we were able to cut over $2,000 in annual expenses with no change in our lifestyle.

     Specifically we took the following steps:

    -Cancelled our personal American Express card which was charging us almost $600 a year to use.  This made sense when we signed on, because they were offering free plane tickets and other freebies, but these were items we no longer wanted or used.  We switched into a business American Express card, which waived all fees for the first year.

    -Called our TV satellite company and renegotiated our monthly bill, saving $25 a month for annual savings of $300 with no lost services.

     -Cancelled our landline phone, saving $50 per month or $600 per year.  We added a zBoost Dual Band cell phone signal booster to improve our in home cell phone signal. It had a onetime cost of $399, so the first year savings was only $200, but future years will be $600 per year.

     -Switched from EarthLink to AT&T for our internet provider and bundled this with our AT&T cell service for a monthly savings of $60 per month or $720 annually.

     -Cancelled a couple of subscriptions/memberships that we were no longer using for an annual savings of $400.

     -We also called our car and home insurance companies and found we could save about $200 per year total but decided that it wasn't worth it, since things seem to happen to our home and cars.  For instance, we were hit by a deer while on vacation and Amica, our insurance company, had the car repaired and paid for before our vacation was over.

    It's important to weigh short term savings with long term relationships or consequences.

    More recently we have been saving money in the following ways:

    -My girls started shopping at some of the local consignment stores like Plato's Closet (www.platoscloset.com) and instead of buying 2 items for $60 at the local dept store they began coming home with a whole bag full of clothes for the same amount. My son also sold some of his clothes to the consignment store for extra spending money.

    -One of our biggest areas of savings is my car.  We bought a used SUV in 2003 with 60,000 miles on it.  It now has almost 200,000 miles.  Prior to these difficult times, we would be looking to replace my high mileage car, but instead we hope to make it run for at least another 50,000 to 100,000 miles.  We keep it well maintained and in return it continues to be very reliable.  Our monthly repair expenditure averages less than $120 a month, verses a car payment of several hundred dollars. See the following article for tips to make your car last 250,000 miles.

    http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/SaveonaCar/MakeYourCarLast250000Miles.aspx?gt1=33004

     -Our daughter will soon be attending the University of Georgia (www.uga.edu) and by attending an in state college we will be saving thousands of dollars annually verses attending an out of state college.  She was considering two out of state schools, The Ohio State University (www.osu.edu), which is our family alma mater and Auburn (www.auburn.edu), which is where her boyfriend will soon be attending. This was a difficult decision, she is a very good student and we had been saving most of her life for college. However, in this uncertain economy it wasn't prudent to take on the extra financial commitment that comes with out of state tuition.

    These are just a few of the ways our family has been cutting back.  Please share your cost savings methods so we can share them with our readers, by emailing me at rpridemore@wi-ex.com.  Check back next month for additional cost saving tips.

  • Gadget Review: Android Power Manager

    July 17, 2009 - Leave a Comment

    I have always loved gadgets and it was no surprise (to my wife’s dismay) that I got a Google G1 phone the first day it was launched. It was love at first sight, but like many users have reported, the “blush started to fade from the rose” when I discovered how quickly the battery discharged. I was used to getting 3-4 days on my Motorola V3 so I was shocked when the battery ran down within 8 hours. I loved the phone but the battery life was a deal breaker however, before I gave up on the phone, I went to settings and started going through them one by one. Wi-Fi and GPS were both turned on but since I did not need them, I turned them off. Likewise I wasn’t currently using Bluetooth or the My Location feature so I turned them both off, and because the screen was extremely bright I turned that down as well. I charged the phone fully and then used it with its new settings and and ‘lo and behold, I found the phone lasted all day long.

     Great, but it is a hassle going through the settings every time I wanted to change them so I went to Market and found Power Manager (www.xphonessoftware.com). When I first downloaded it, it was free but the developer lost his job and started charging $.99 for the full version. After using the free version for a few days I sprang for the $.99, full version, (who knows, Uncle Sam may still let me deduct it as an expense, but I won’t hold my breath).

     There have been several updates since, and it continues to improve. The most recent update 07/10/2010 now supports Android 2.5 (cupcake).

    Why do I like it? Easy, it is located in the task bar where I can always click on it and instantly change my settings (look for the black triangle at the top of your screen after you install the software). Not only does It comes with some well thought out preset standard settings but it also enables the user to build and store custom settings so you can fine tune it with a click. I love the display status which provides me with a quick snapshot of what is on and what is off, as well as battery condition.

     Do you want to enable all wireless with one touch? You’ve got it. Want to turn Bluetooth on but leave all other settings off? No problem.

    Now I no longer worry about battery life, and I am back in love with my G1.Try the free version and then help the guy out with a $.99 donation-I don’t think you will be disappointed and you’ll be helping out someone who continues to upgrade a neat application.

  • Site of the Week: Oh Gizmo!

    July 16, 2009 - Leave a Comment

    ohgizmoOhGizmo! is a frequently updated blog about gadgets, innovation and design. They scour the web, five days a week, looking for the most interesting technologically flavored entertainment.

    OhGizmo.com is a labor of love for bloggers, David Ponce and Andrew Liszewski. The site doesn't focus on the major technology players, such as Apple or Sony. Instead, Ponce and Liszewski, highlight the truly innovative and bizarre technology, regardless if it is old or new.

    In the Oh Gizmo! FAQ, when asked "Why did you post about something from 20 years ago?", Ponce responds, "While we try to emphasize more recent products, we don’t shy from talking about older things if we feel they’re interesting enough. Don’t forget that what may be old and stale for you may very well be new and shiny for someone else."

    A recent post features a wrist-mounted keyboard by iKey for soliders in war zones. The keyboard can withstand harsh electromagnetic interference and has LED backlighting so it can be used with night-vision goggles. While this isn't practical for consumers, the technology is very cool, nonetheless! ikeywristboard

    Oh Gizmo! doesn't just post about unique gadgets but also on unique trends with technology ties. Liszewski recently wrote about the University of Alabama's efforts to use the Nintendo Wii remote and PC software while performing CPR:

    The next time you have a heart attack (that’s supposed to be a weekly occurrence right?) how would you like it if the person performing CPR on you was trained at home via a PC app using the Nintendo Wiimote? Well that’s exactly what biomedical engineering undergraduate students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham have in mind. And given the fact that the American Heart Association has pledged $50,000 to fund their research, the idea must have some merit.

    The students have been working on the concept since last January, and this past Spring a working prototype of the technology was demonstrated which is when the AHA stepped in and offered the grant. If all goes well, the UAB Wii CPR software would be made available for download from the American Heart Association website as open source code as early as this Fall. And I think the Wii Vitality sensor which Nintendo introduced at E3 this year has finally found its killer life-saving application.

    Oh Gizmo! might not be the site you frequent for consumer technology advise but it is a great site to see brilliant minds and the technology trends of the future.

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