Blogs

Repurposing equipment from your internet service provider

When you’ve chosen a new service provider for something like cable internet, you’re often offered to rent or buy new equipment for connecting to the internet.  You’re mostly likely to rent or buy from the provider if you don’t know enough about technology to get it done easily and quickly.  For those techies that realize you can simply buy a modem to get a better deal for the long term, you don’t accept anything from the cable company and talk your way to using your modem to save a little each month.

In another scenario, the cable company provides you with a new “cutting edge” “router” with advanced Wi-Fi capabilities for “free” to use with the service.  In this case, everything you would need is included in this one device… Typically a “gateway.”  It connects to the internet, routes your network, and offers far-reaching and speedy Wi-Fi access.

This case happened to me for my new residence.  Knowing what I can do with this equipment, I figured out the equipment is not all that extraordinary and have repurposed it as just another switch in my home.  It can do “everything,” so I disabled the functions I don’t need it to do.  I just use it for the one function I need: connecting one PC that is located far from the others.  My existing equipment already has Wi-Fi that reaches a good distance and is speedy.  I basically got free equipment!

Contact me for details, if interested, and comment on your experiences!

An unorthodox but effective way to find a lost item

Soft skills work beyond the workplace and provide another way of being creative.

Recently I was in a hurry to catch a flight and had just returned my rental vehicle. The rental vehicle facility was a distance away from the airport requiring a shuttle bus for transporting in between. I was already on the shuttle bus towards the airport when I realized I may have forgotten something in the now-returned rental vehicle.

I pulled up an electronic receipt to call customer service in hopes that I could be transferred to the local office via phone. I was successfully transferred over. However, the phone was ringing and going to voicemail. Moreover, the voicemail was not working. I called a few more times assuming the staff at the office would likely be busy. No one was answering. I called and spoke to customer service at the 800 number. The gentleman said there was nothing he could do if both customer service and lost and found were not answering.

As I have been to this rental car facility numerous times and knew of other rental companies there, I decided to try calling one of the other ones I had tried a few times. I was finally able to speak with a live person.

I explained the situation to the representative and asked if it were possible for him to ask a representative at the other company to pick up his or her phone. I had tried calling and no one was picking up. To my pleasant surprise, the person asked me to hold and found out the representative was in a meeting and could return my call.

I was eventually called back within a few minutes as promised, and I described my lost item situation. The representative explained that the same vehicle had just been rented back out and wouldn’t be back for a few days. He offered to leave a note with my contact information if the item was found. I graciously agreed.

We will see if the item is found and returned or not. However, I was really happy that representatives from different companies, but from the same facility, were nice enough to help me out. This was good customer service but not in their job description.

Some of the hardest to do are simple: fitness

Sometimes, it simply takes dedication and persistence to accomplish something valuable.

One example is fitness.  If you have any sort of interest in doing anything physical, you should keep doing it daily or mutiple times a week.  Repeating it will make you stronger… persistence and dedication are huge.

I practiced towards a handstand and finally was able to do one after months of work.  I figured out I had to start with something basic and go from there.  I was already comfortable doing push-ups so next had to become comfortable with essentially a tuck position.  This is where you hold yourself on two hands while tucking your legs under you against your abs.  Later, I raised myself up while continuing to hold myself on two hands.  After a while, confidence became a larger factor than strength.  Then it was balance combined with strength.  Eventually, I could say I could do a handstand.

Doing a body weight exercise consistently a few times a week helped keep my body weight steady and helped me develop strength.  I did some other exercises as well and toned my body and got stronger.  I also got to know my body more and avoid injuries.  I understood how to progress for various exercises.

If you keep doing something, you will learn it as well as related skills.  You will get smarter about it as long as you let yourself.  People learn differently.

I am no physical trainer, but I have taught myself to perform a planche and a handstand.  I am still working on a muscle up but can do a messy and semi muscle up.  I also build up endurance in running by progressively running longer and longer distances while avoiding injury.  

I can provide some guidance if you’re interested.  Progression entails starting simple and working towards a more advanced level.  All you need is dedication and persistence.

I want a credit card. Where do I start?

There are many kinds of credit cards that offer points, cash rewards, and other benefits.  They are tailored for travel; for daily purchases such as food, groceries, gas, etc.; for conveniences; and others.

For travel, you want to look for points towards airlines and $0 foreign transaction fees.  Because they’re for travel, most only offer points towards airline reservations.  Some may expand to travel-related expenses such as hotels and rental cars.  Travel credit cards should all offer no foreign transaction fees–meaning you can use it internationally and not be charged for the conversion of international currency to US Dollars.  This is, of course, from the perspective of being from the United States.

Some credit cards come with an annual fee, but many do not.  Many of the nicer travel credit cards require a fee after using it for the first year.  The average person does not need to get a credit card that comes with a fee.  However, once you start spending a large amount regularly, it may be beneficial for you to get one with a fee.

For cash-back rewards credit cards, some benefits have become such as no expiration of rewards, unlimited earning of rewards, and redeeming of any amount of a reward anytime (rather than a minimum of say $20 or in $20 increments).  You’ll see these benefits from the larger credit card providers but not from smaller ones.

Another benefit becoming standard is a view of your credit score from one of the three credit bureaus–Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian.  You will typically be able to see what score one of the bureaus has for you, and it will be updated monthly.  Each credit card may offer some more features related to either credit checking or monitoring as part of the included service.

Capital One is a larger financial services entity that offers many of these kinds of credit cards.  Theirs usually come with the benefit of not charging any foreign transaction fees.  They offer travel cards with points redeemable towards airlines of your choosing.  They also offer credit cards that offer cash back for any and all purchases while offering no transaction fees.  One that I acquired was the Capital One Quicksilver; it offers 1.5% back on all purchases.  Their travel credit card, the Capital One Venture Card, allows you to earn points that can be redeemed at any airline of your choice.

Discover has improved over the past decade.  Although their rewards program is dynamic and changes every few months–you earn rewards based on a rotating rewards program, 5%–they allow you to redeem cash back at any time and the cash rewards do not expire.  If you purchase something not in the category, then you will get 1% cash back.  The Discover It card currently does this and allows you to redeem the points directly as a credit, as direct cash, or as a gift card to a variety of places.  I found out that redeeming from certain places will even give you additional rewards.  For example, I found a discount at Enterprise Rent-a-car where I could use $20 of my cash back towards a $40 credit at Enterprise.  You can also redeem your cash back directly at Amazon.

Others are providing great rewards too.  Let me know if you’re curious about any!

 

Google’s Project Fi

I wrote earlier about how there are numerous service providers in the US that one can choose from.  One service provider, owned by Google, is called Project Fi.  It’s the cell service, and more specifically in this case–a mobile virtual network operator, that Google provides with great rates depending on how much data you use.

Their plans are simple and allows you to manage your account completely through a Google app: Project Fi.  You get unlimited domestic calls and texts for $20/month.  Then you get to pay for data at a rate of $10/month domestic and internationally.  

When you first sign up, you decide how much data you plan on using and pay for that upfront.  As you use the service, you are credited back for whatever data you don’t use.  I am on a family plan with AT&T and so don’t need to pay for extra data.  With Project Fi, I end up paying around $24/month which includes taxes and fees.  I get a number that I can manage myself…similar to Google Voice.  Also, you are required to use a Google Phone.  I am personally a fan of smartphones so did not mind getting the Nexus 6.

They have evolved over the last few years in extending the phones that they support, the networks they operate off of, and how their plans work.  Now through later this year, they are challenging all Fi users to refer others with incentives of various prizes up to a trip to Google’s headquarters.

If you’re interested in checking it out (no commitment on the plans), check them out from here: https://g.co/fi/r/CPN5DC

Both giver and receiver of the referral receive $20 in some form… Credit, Google Play cash, etc.

Affiliate marketing

Here’s something cool: indirect sales.

Affiliate marketing allows you to talk about something to promote/sell, review, or otherwise mention and benefit from the action financially.  One popular program is provided by Amazon.  With the largest e-commerce system in the world, everyone can benefit a little just by joining.

I am trying it out and with that said, must state:

I/We am/are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me/us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

________

Another program that assists in showing off items and helps with the whole effort is kit.com.  Visit mine at kit.com/gh5678.  That’s a nice simple site that allows you to put together custom virtual kits of anything you use and show off so that others can buy.  With an affiliate account, just add the account information and people can get right to the products… In my case, on Amazon.

Check it out.  The combination essentially lets you show off what you have and use.

General comparison of Android to iOS

The latest smartphones in the United States, and probably the world, are either those with Google’s operating system (OS) — Android — or those with Apple’s OS — iOS.  Android comes with phones made by Google as well as by Samsung, LG, Motorola, and others.  Apple makes its iPhone exclusively.

The two kinds of phones both have their advantages and disadvantages.  Objectively, one can do certain things while the other can do other certain things.  As they are direct competitors — Apple and Google, that is — they have many of the same features and continue to have more similar features.

These similar features are a growing list including battery life, display size and type, ruggedness, sound quality, security features, camera quality, etc.  In the past few years, I started leaning towards battery life as a more significant feature as data from the wireless service provider came at a better cost, though that is another story.

Features that I personally enjoy from Android:

  • Notifications stay at the top of the screen
  • Quick settings drop-down menu
  • Clear cache from individual apps
  • Customize-able home screen(s) which can show all or none of your app

Features that I personally enjoy from iOS:

  • Airdropping files
  • 3D touch on keyboard
  • Integrated iMessaging and FaceTime system
  • Great battery life

 

What are your favorite features?  What do you want to learn more about?

Comment below.

How do you choose your wireless provider?

Currently in the United States, AT&T Wireless and Verizon Wireless are the largest and top providers for cell phone service.  They are followed by Sprint, T-Mobile, and others.  I don’t have the latest statistics, but that is generally true.

How you choose your wireless provider comes with a list of factors that would determine the best fit for you.  Here’s a list of what you should keep in mind in determining which provider to select:

  • coverage in your local area and potentially where you frequently travel to
  • rates for data, minutes, and text messages domestically
  • types of (smart-) phones offered

Cities usually have the best coverage, but it’s best to ask around to see what people are experiencing.  Large providers such as AT&T and Verizon provide maps online to show where coverage should be, but people will be able to tell you how the reception has been best.

The term “unlimited” is becoming very popular.  Ten years ago (2006/2007), having a set number/allowance of minutes and text messages was common among all the providers.  Now, minutes and text messages are often unlimited while data is limited.  Providers besides Verizon and AT&T  are often marketing unlimited plans to include minutes, data, and text messages to be more competitive.  However, if you read the small print, the “unlimited data” is actually limited in speed which could affect your experience.

I pay more attention to the larger providers as I enjoy having great coverage in all areas across the U.S. and enjoy using the more modern phones.  Most of the phones you see advertised on television are the competitive and high-performing mobile devices from manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, Google, LG, Motorola, etc.  The latest phones from Google, Samsung, and Apple, for example, are always available at the larger providers.  They do, however, also sell lower end phones that you could find from their websites or by visiting their stores in person.  Their sales representatives are always eager to show and sell!

This is the general approach to looking at a service provider.  As you look at your situation, you will want to look at plans, how their offerings benefit yourself, and other factors that we could discuss.  For more information, questions, or if you have anything you’d like to add, feel free to leave a comment below.