Data Limits are Bullshit

Data Limits are Bullshit

Pretty soon, I’ll be depending on an LTE-only data connection to access the internet.  I’ve found an ebay seller who offers Verizon Jetpacks with truly unlimited LTE data for $120/month.  Not bad, given that other costs of ours will be going down, and we make our living on the internet.

However, it’s still incredibly lame that wireless carriers inflict ridiculously small data limits on users for their normal plans.  They have stated time and time again that only 2% of users use gobs and gobs of data each month (technical, I know), so I don’t understand the point in having data caps.

This graph shows our data usage with Time Warner, and the August bit is only until today, 7 August 2015.

Data Limits are Bullshit

156GB over the past 7 days.  Yes, we have about 17 phones running Perk, 10 of which are running low-res, low bitrate video for about 12-16 hours a day, but we only started that in July.  April, May, and June were months of usage where we simply streamed an episode or two of Parks and Rec at night, and browsed the internet / sent emails normally during the day.

I keep up with about 5 subscriptions on YouTube, but they only post videos about once a week.  I do watch other YouTube videos as well, as does Jessica.

My point is, we aren’t doing any massive downloading (any more).  This usage is what I would call “typical usage” for people our age (twenty-somethings) using the internet a bit less than average.

Yet cell companies want to impose a 5GB cap on usage.

It’s stupid, and I know that probably within the next 5 years Google will have their WiFi balloons over the entire inhabitable earth, and there will be no need for cell data any more, but it still just irks me now.

How much data do you use each month?  (I found out by logging into my Time Warner account and clicking on “My Internet” and “View Usage Details”.)

Stereo and Spark Plug Fun

Stereo and Spark Plug Fun - 1

I had some fun with soldering wires and installing a stereo, and Jessica got her hands dirty changing spark plugs.  How about a photo gallery?!

Isn’t Gravity Great?

Isn't Gravity Great? - Influx

When I’m driving down the street, I often think about how scary it would be if gravity just stopped working, and we all started floating toward the sky.  Revving the engine to no avail, trying desperately to get back to what we currently know as “down”.

I’m sure that sounds strange to most people, who simply drive to their destinations, only bothered by the fact that their car doesn’t have enough bluetooth or screens.  Nonetheless, I think of these ridiculous scenarios all the time.

Well that shit just got a whole lot scarier after reading Influx, by Daniel Suarez.  After reading this book, I now have a very vivid image of what that would be like.

I thought that I was a slow reader, because the books I’ve been trying to read over the past three years – I’ve read slowly.  Well, I take that back.  I read the Hunger Games trilogy pretty quickly (c’mon third book – YOU WERE INCOMPREHENSIBLE), and I also powered through the Girl w/Dragon Tattoo series.  But the other books I’ve been trying to read have been non-fiction, mainly reference books.

It turns out I’m not such a slow reader, but it just takes me longer to get through non-fiction and reference books (if I can finish them at all).  The cure?  Read more fiction.

When I was a kid, I would buy the new Goosebumps book from WalMart every sunday, and finish it in an hour or so.  I remember lots of stuff I used to enjoy reading, like Jerry Spinelli, the Boxcar Kids, Animorphs, and more.  But as I got older, I though I needed to be reading stuff to further my education, rather than things to further my imagination.

As it turns out, furthering my imagination DOES further my education, because it motivates me to take on new projects that I wouldn’t have otherwise taken on.  Reading just this one fiction novel has given me more ideas and inspired me to start more new things than reading an SEO Reference Book ever would.  When I read about characters being badasses, I want to be a badass too.

I’ve already started Daemon by Daniel Suarez, and I’m excited to go to the Library and pick up other random books to get my imagination going again.  I’ve spent far too long taking myself far too seriously, and now it’s time to rev up my creative badassery.

Apartment Living; How it’s Going

Apartment Living in San Antonio - 7

After deciding to go a different route than Tiny House, we moved into an apartment. We were sure to get the apartment exactly how we wanted when we first moved in, because we didn’t want to feel like we were “living out of a suitcase” like we often did over the course of the past four years. So we headed up to IKEA and got some nice stuff, combined with some stuff that we already had from previous purchases, and we got all set up.

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We really like how our set up apartment looks, but to be honest, we just really hate San Antonio, so it doesn’t feel like “home” should. I’ve worked at a standup desk since my USAA job, starting in 2005. Although I really enjoy my standing desk here, sometimes I just wish I could sit down and work for a couple minutes. If my back ever starts to get sore from standing up and working, sitting down means not working, since I work with a stationary desktop computer.

Obviously having a laptop would make the transition easier, but I don’t have a laptop right now (currently looking for one to replace the desktop). This isn’t something I could have predicted before setting up my standing workstation, as I’ve enjoyed standing stations for over 10 years now. It’s a small niggle, but it’s a niggle nonetheless.

The Great Stuff About Apartment Living, Compared to Rural Tiny

The apartment has running water. The apartment has electricity. The apartment is hooked up for internet. If anything breaks, one maintenance request on the website, and the crew will be here to fix it within 48 hours.

Where we were going to be living – in Spring Branch – there was no running water. We would have had to put in a couple 1,000gal water tanks and a water pressure pump. If that thing broke, I would be sweating my ass off trying to fix it for who knows how long. It’s just really nice to be in an apartment that already has all of this stuff set up.

The location in Spring Branch also had fiber internet, but the gigabit connection cost $300/month. Seriously, THREE HUNDRED dollars per month, for internet. The top-tier Time Warner connection is “only” 300mbps, but it comes with promo pricing of $65/month. We dropped that connection down to 50/5, and we’re now paying $35/month, but with the occasional outages that I call in about, we’re honestly getting the internet for free. 😀

Another great thing about apartment living is the fridge and dishwasher. We would not have as big a fridge as we do here in a tiny house, and it’s really nice to be able to load it up with two weeks worth of food, so that we don’t have to go out as often as we would have had to in the Tiny House. The dishwasher is great because we’ve washed dishes by hand before, and not only does a dishwasher use less water – it’s LESS WORK. I can’t emphasize enough how little I care to be a “Pioneer Man” and act like technology doesn’t exits.

Dishwashers are great, and I’m stoked to have one in our apartment.

Our apartment is probably smaller than most, at around 690 sq ft. That’s three times bigger than our tiny house, but it’s a very nice layout. We definitely make the most of the space, and we don’t feel like there are any areas that are wasted.

Full Size Washer and Dryer

We would have been using either a laundromat or the Wonder Wash and Mini Spinner for our laundry, but if I’m being completely honest, I fucking love having a full size washer and dryer. Seriously, they work incredibly well, and they save so much extra time. It also helps that I got a slick deal on both of them that brought a sale price of $490 each down to $350 each. Expensive overall, but such a nice convenience to have.

Wii U and Gaming

We haven’t played the Wii U a lot lately, but it’s been really nice when we have felt like playing it to be able to just pop it on my 27″ computer display, and get in some Super Mario 3D World or Mario Kart 8. I also get some Titanfall play in on the PC partition of my desktop, which is a nice stress-reliever.

Another surprise benefit of this somewhat small apartment is that the WiFi coverage is fantastic. We’re on the third floor, and when we go outside with @sammy_bichon behind our apartment, we still get WiFi down there on the ground. Since we don’t have data plans on our phones, this works out great.

We use a TP Link Archer C7 WiFi AC router, and being able to be so close to it with an AC-equipped laptop (Jess’ MacBook Air) makes throughput speeds fantastic, even when she’s only browsing a 50mbps limited internet connection. Our phones don’t need to max out an AC connection, but it’s nice to have such a strong WiFi connection throughout the apartment. I also got quite lucky in that the Archer C7 is one of the most stable routers I’ve ever used. I have only restarted it to apply firmware updates, but it has never crashed on its own. It’s a fantastic router.

Sleeping

We got an awesome bed, that was shipped to our apartment in a small box that fit through the door easily, if you can believe that. The bed is a Tuft & Needle 10″ King mattress, and it feels absolutely awesome. We have it situated in an IKEA Malm bed frame, and that frame is crazy solid.

We’ve only had as large as a Queen bed before, and this King bed is incredible. We both like to sprawl, so it’s really nice to be able to throw ourselves in whatever position we want, and still both be comfortable throughout the night. I really like our bed setup.

So That’s It!

There are some really great aspects to apartment living, but the main thing we don’t like about our apartment is the city it’s located in. We just wish there were more to do in San Antonio, but that’s not the case. The city seems to expand in such a way to encourage people to either stay in their houses, or only go as short a distance as possible to get to the nearest food chain, because let’s face it: the only thing to do in San Antonio is eat yourself to death.

We’re more complacent in this apartment than we are super happy with it. It’s doing its job for now, but it’s really just a reminder of where we sit while we deal with all the stress of the past four years. I know this isn’t the kitschy, cutesy blog post you see on apartment therapy about how fantastic apartment living is, but the fact of the matter is that after having our Tiny House stolen by meth heads, there was no way we would simply fall into place in the next step of our life journey. We have a better idea of what to do to make our lives better, and now we’re just working on implementing it.

Best Smartphone for a Web Developer

The Best Smartphone for a Web Developer

Yes, there was a time in the past when I got rid of my smartphone (and iPod Touch).  However, I now have new requirements for the technology that connects me to the web.  Read on for more inf

Recently, there was a super slick deal on a Verizon LG G2.  Jessica needed a new phone, as she had to turn in her old work iPhone 5C.  I cashed in 20,000 Southwest points for $200 in Best Buy gift cards, stopped by the USPS to get a mover’s pack with a 10% off Best Buy coupon, and got the LG G2 with about $5 left over in gift cards.

As it turns out, that phone is… AWESOME.  The screen is just big enough (not phablet territory), it’s incredibly responsive, the display is beautiful, it comes with wireless charging, the camera is phenomenal, and the skin LG put on top of Android is actually quite good.  Naturally, I’m uber jealous.

As I’ve just restructured not only the Friday Next website, but also my business plan, I have different plans for how my business will operate in the future.  There’s a possibility that we will soon be mobile pretty regularly, so we’ll need to have hotspot coverage to provide us with an internet connection, so Jessica can publish her books and I can provide my web services.


 

I chose the Verizon LG G2 for Jessica for a very basic reason.  Once we go mobile, we’ll need Verizon and AT&T coverage to basically avoid having no coverage on the road (for the most part).  Until we go mobile, though, Jessica will be fine using Page Plus (or just WiFi), to keep costs down.

Requirements for a Web Developer Smartphone

My requirements are pretty simple, actually.  I want a phone similar to the LG G2 (which is similar to the Nexus 5), but I also want a fingerprint scanner.  With my shift in business structure, I plan to manage multiple social networks from a mobile device, and the easiest way to do that is with a combination of LastPass, and a phone with a biometric sensor.

There are certain tasks that I know are best left to being done on a desktop operating system.  For example, I would never fully set up a website from my Lenovo 13″ Android tablet.  I have tried to use it as a desktop replacement, and Android is just not up to the task.  The main thing that tablet is good for is consuming video content, which it does well.

There are some things that are easier to manage on a smartphone, however.  Instagram doesn’t really make it possible to manage on a desktop, so smartphone is a must.  Other social networks like Google Plus are a bit easier to navigate and reply to messages via the smartphone interface.

I would also like a phone that makes multitasking possible, so that I could have a secure shell to my server on the lower half of the screen, and the website in question on the top half of the screen.  Fortunately, there are very few phones that fit these requirements.

Samsung Galaxy S6

The Best Smartphone for a Web Developer

At this point in time, the only phone that will completely meet these requirements is the Samsung Galaxy S6.  The only problem?  It’s hella expensive.  I don’t want to spend any more than $200 for a new smartphone, and even then, I want that to be gift cards that I didn’t have to pay cash for.  So I’ll probably have to wait a while to get in on this madness.

The Galaxy S5 also has a fingerprint scanner, but MKBHD says that it’s a bit wonky, and that the S6 improves upon it light years.  There’s currently a slick deal to get the S5 for $350, so if time is an issue – and I can’t find another way to hack a super slick deal on an S6 – then I might just end up getting an S5.

The Main Goal

My main goal is to get a phone that makes it easy to run my business while remaining mobile, while also costing close to nothing.  I would like to spend less than $50 in real cash on this transaction.  I mentioned less than $200 above, but that’s the limit I want to keep on what’s rung up at the register.  I want to keep the amount of dollars I actually pay to get enough gift cards to get this phone to be less than $50, and I’ll also count the sale of my current phone toward that amount.

Scratch That

I’ve made a huge mistake.  The Galaxy Note 4 is the phone I want (neeeeeed).  Crazy SlickDealing and price-tracking will commence now.