Just A Thought, Smartphone Manufacturers Take Note!

I’ve spent the last couple days buying Zagg skins for my Nexus S and trying to apply them to the phone. Both times I managed to trap little specks under the skins and had to remove them, ruining the skins which cost about $15 each. I feel like a real idiot especially because when I had the last phone (the one Samsung just replaced) I had no problem at all getting the skin on perfectly without bumps or bubbles or dirt specs.

This lead me to an idea. If you go online or indeed to a car dealership and you order a new car, you can chose exactly what features you want. Do you want a sunroof? Done. Keyless start? Sure. Rear view camera? Certainly. So why don’t the smart phone makers offer the phone with a top spec Zagg cover on them? It’s not like Apple or Samsung or HTC is somehow forcing you to buy another product of theirs; they don’t make the covers themselves. I’d be happy to pay an extra 5 bucks over the cost of the phone and the cover to make sure it was on properly.

I think this is a major mistake on the part of the phone makers. Everyone with any sense buys a screen protector, so I’m willing to bet if they offered this, pretty soon getting a phone without a cover would be a special option.


Finally Got The New Phone

Samsung finally decided to put me through to one of their corporate people who realized what a stupid thing it was to jerk a customer around as they had done. She was kind enough to overnight me a box to return the broken phone in, overnighting me a new phone the next day. The new one hasn’t had any of the problems I described previously. I don’t think the problems I had were endemic to the model. I think they were problem with that particular phone. Only time will tell.

Nexus S, second stab, here we go.

The Phone Has Arrived

As many of you may recall from my rant the other day, I’ve been dealing with a lot of nonsense over my Samsung Nexus S since I purchased it.  It’s an okay phone now (as there is a 4G version you can now buy) not a cutting edge phone, so it’s already lost much of its value to me, but it at least runs the same 3G standard as most of Europe so I can use it there, and it’s unlocked, I think, so I can take it there.  Fine.  What remains to be seen is will it die when I take it into the subway.  I don’t plan on riding the train for a few days, so it may be a little while before I get to check that particular feature, but I expect that when I go out Wednesday for one of my many scheduled meetings, the phone will drop dead like a racehorse with a broken leg at a gun show.  This phone has become symbolic of my disappointments in technology.  And I have had many.  This one sums up everything bad about retail (Best Buy) customer service (T-Mobile USA, amazingly) and repair service (Samsung).  Now I can only wait and see…

Unless it dies in the elevator.  Then I’m going to call Samsung and if they don’t replace it with a model that works, the lawsuit begins.  Former colleagues at ABC?  CBS?  The Post?  Want a fun consumer story?  I got it right here.

Best Buy Sucks and Samsung Done Broke My Phone

I was holding back on this one for a while.  I should mention here I got a comment that, while a little too rude to be posted publicly (at least on this blog) pointed out that I had not addressed every detail of this story.  I have thus included some details I had previously left out.

In December, 2010 I was one of the many tech-heads excited about Gingerbread, the new Android OS.  The Nexus S, a phone manufactured by Samsung, was about to come out and it was the first phone with Gingerbread and it came with an NFC (Near Field Communication) chip, a device that will change a lot in the next few years by making credit cards and indeed wallets obsolete.

I went to Best Buy to purchase said phone and it was confirmed to me by the salesman that it was a 4G phone.  I was also told I did not need the Best Buy warranty, that T-Mobile’s warranty would cover my phone.  As I would find out later from T-Mobile, it would not.  I signed a new contract with T-Mobile and purchased the phone.

I got the phone officially December 24th, but I was out of the US until the second week of January, so I couldn’t bench test the phone.  When I got the phone and set it up, I couldn’t seem to find a 4G signal anywhere in Manhattan and I called T-mobile and Best Buy for their help in finding one.  I googled the device and nowhere in the first Google results (at the time mind you) was there a page that said it wasn’t 4G, only the features it did have.  Of course, no one at the time would advertise a 3G phone as 3G, because there is no advantage in it.  They would just say it would work on any HSPA network, which it turns out is a polite way of saying it’s a 3G phone without saying so.  I continued searching for the HSPA+ signal (4G) through January until finally I gave up and called T-Mobile, thinking the sim was broken.  It wasn’t.  The problem was that the phone isn’t 4G.

I called Best Buy, irate, asking them to refund the phone and let me out of the contract I had now signed with T-Mobile.  They would not, citing their 30 day return policy.  I asked to be put on the phone with someone who had the authority to override this policy and was stonewalled for weeks.  I called repeatedly, posted to the Best Buy facebook page and was assured several times by Best Buy employees who promptly disappeared that the problem would be resolved.  When I reached the apex of Best buy customer service, I was told there was no way even the chairman of Best Buy would be able to turn over this policy and refund my purchase or let me out of the contract with T-Mobile.

The other problem with the phone (and this is the current calamity with this device) something I only realized was chronic around the 30 day mark, was that when it lost the signal, it couldn’t get it back again.  I would come out of the subway and it would not go on the network anymore.  I would have to power cycle the phone.  This can be hard to remember to do when you’re coming in and out of elevators and subways all day, so I missed some important calls as a result.  As I wasn’t riding the subway much in January, I didn’t notice this happen very often.

I called Samsung, who said the phone needed to be reset.  I tried to follow their directions, but the woman I spoke to could not adequately describe what I needed to do.  I told her what the screen looked like, the icons that came up and she didn’t understand what was going on.  Apparently, everything was normal, but she was too stupid to know that.  So she had me mail in the phone.  This is where it really becomes adding insult to injury.  The phone will only work on T-Mobile for about another year as AT&T is buying T-Mobile and soon I won’t be able to even use the 3G on the phone because AT&T will change the 3G signal used by T-Mobile to AT&T’s band, thus making my phone an Edge (2G) device.  So every week I go without the phone essentially costs me $5.

Samsung sent the phone back.  It was still broken.  I called, this time talking to a supervisor.  He said the problem was the idiot I spoke with hadn’t adequately described the problem in her notes, despite my repeatedly telling her the entire story as I have put it in this blog post.  I was told to reset it.  I reset it.  Same problem.  I called, they had me send it in.  I got it back.  It was still broken.  I called.  As per their instructions, I reset it.  Still broken.  I called again, they had me send it back. This has more than a month.

Now it’s due to return in a few days, if UPS ever get their shit together.  If it does not work and they refuse to replace the device or refund me the money and tell T-Mobile to release my contract, I will call the NY Attorney General and sue them, T-Mobile and possibly Best Buy under the NY State Lemon Law.  This has gone too far.  Best Buy, Samsung and T-Mobile have all bitterly disappointed me.

It Lives!

After all that consternation about what I should name my new media RAID, I went with “Mercedes Benz” with one 2tb drive labelled AMG and the other labelled Brabus.  I realized I was already using Batman and Robin for editing and shouldn’t change horses so to speak while I’m in the middle of a project.  The new drives seem to be working well, but I’ve yet to start using them.  When I begin to capture from tape (right now I’m capturing from files on an external HD) I plan to split the audio and video files between Batman and Robin and Mercedes Benz.  That should be a good bench test.

The amount of wiring going into this is astonishing.  I unplugged everything.  I mounted my surge protectors on the wall and now I have achieved a sort of cascading waterfall of spaghetti coming from the surge protectors to the computer and from the computer to the hard drives plugged into it.  It’s like a piece of installation art.

Goes Together Like Keyboard and Mouse

I ordered some new hard drives last week with an eye on adding them to the RAID array I use to store audio and video for my editing rig.  For Man Powered Films Blog Irregulars, a RAID is basically a bunch of hard drives working as one in order to read information (video in this case) fast enough to play it back (at 30 frames per second, give or take.)  As an editor, you only really need them when you’re working with HD video, because HD is thirty times as much data as SD.  So, I have two of these complicated thingies attached to my computer.  This is going to present me with a couple new and interesting problems.

First of all, I could add them to one of the arrays I already have.  One array (a four drive RAID with the boring name of “media”, something I plan on changing soon) is already full and the other is named “Batman and Robin” because those are the names I wrote on the drives to distinguish them when I took them on a gig in Scotland a year ago.  If I add the new drives to Batman and Robin it leaves me with two problems.  First of all, what do I call them now?  Batman and Robin is a short enough name to put to a hard drive in windows, but “Batman Robin Alfred and Batgirl” is too many characters, literally.  What about “Superheroes”?  Well, if I add Cyclops and Wolverine to the list, then it works except Robin isn’t a superhero at all is he?  He’s just the sidekick.  I could divide Batman and Robin up and use them as storage disks, but then I wouldn’t have the nifty name.

But before I can wrestle with the second pressing issue: drive naming.   I have to figure out the answer to this: can I RAID them to the existing drives?  Batman and Robin are both great discs, but only 1tb each whereas the new drives are 2tb each.  Can they all be RAIDed?  Or will I have to partition the 2tb discs and then RAID them with the other two.  Can that even be done?  I’m not really a tech expert here, just an editor who tinkers, so this will be interesting.

At the end of the day what I may wind up with is a third RAID array, Nook and Cranny or something, which I can use for video files (2 tb being bigger than 1 after all) and Batman and Robin can handle sound.  The problem comes in when down the road I have to toss out an old drive.  What happens if I wind up with Batman and Cranny?  Or Bubble and Robin?  Or Milk and Mash?  What chaos will ensue?!  And more importantly, when Batman is gone, who will save me?

Lenovo X1, the Genesis of an Editing Platform?


Much like the X1 from BMW, here’s a superbly engineered machine we can’t get in the US. I’m an HP and Lenovo guy. I love my x201i Thinkpad, from which I now write this post. I also love my HP laptop, a refurb I got on Ebay for $200 and turned into a mobile edit station some years ago. I especially love my Z800 workstation, which is awesome, amazing and all an editor could want.

What I’d really like to see is Lenovo, with their M1911 looks and Seal Knife 2000 edges make a top of the line mobile edit station I’d want to use.  Something with the ports, the power and the portability of their wonderful X series laptops, but tuned for editing.  Currently if you buy their “ultrabase” you get another slot for storage or a disc reader and a few extra plugs.  Still, if it had say, an extra video card, some HDMI or Displayport outs and a built in RAID card, then we’d be talking.

Yeah, you’d need a second monitor, but you can get some pretty small monitors these days, so you could extend your desktop onto said monitor for windows with trim bins, and use the pretty laptop screen for your editing.  Simple, not hard to develop and free: TAKE IT FROM ME LENOVO!  TAKE MY IDEA FOR FREE!