Category Archives: Technology

Join us in DC for the CUFI Summit! (Special Group Rate)

The annual Summit of Christians United For Israel is always amazing, and this year looks to be better than ever. Your voice is needed! Join us in DC for the CUFI Summit!

Special Deal for CUFI’s DC Summit

Micro$oft gets nasty on forced Windows 10 “Upgrade” — (Update to “How to Stop Windows 10”)

This is an update to what I previously posted here. (I’m a Mac user, but I write such things out of concern for friends still suffering the handicap known as Windows.)

Microsoft has recently gotten downright mean, and certainly unethical. The latest “popup” windows about upgrading now interpret clicking the “X” as “upgrade” instead of “close” — both the “X” and the “OK” button function the same as choosing “upgrade.”

According to a WND article here:

To avoid the forced “upgrade,” a user has to go into the fine print. Inside a logo box in the ad is a scheduled date for a mandatory upgrade. The user must look in the tiny type just below that line and find where it says “here” and click on that to avoid the upgrade.

Read more on their site.

Awesome! Reloading bullet primers with matches

How to Stop Windows 10

Many of you are frustrated at Micro$oft forcing Windows 10 on you against your will. This is no exaggeration. They are silently downloading 3 gigabytes of Windows 10 installer files without consent (which is practically theft since it robs you of bandwidth and storage space you pay for), and they are insisting (via pop-ups that leave you no way out) that people with Windows 7, Windows 8.1, etc, upgrade to Windows 10. This new OS drags many PCs to a crawl. If you were forced into an “upgrade,” there is a way to downgrade, going back to your earlier version, but you must do so within 30 days of the upgrade. Settings –> Restore –> (Google is your friend here). There is also a freeware program that will delete the unwanted Windows 10 installer files and stop the merciless pop-ups. Again, Google is your friend. I am not a Windows user (I use Mac), but again, I am your friend. The freeware I installed on a church computer to stop the madness, is called GWX Control Panel from Ultimate Outsider (link below). http://ultimateoutsider.com/downloads/

How to save Word template, getting around the “same name” issue!

This solution is easy. Forget any sites or solutions that told you run some something in the “VBA editor” and blah, blah, blah.

So, you opened a template you’ve created previously, and tweaked it. Now you just want to save the updated template as a template, in the special folder where they go, and under the same name as before. But … you’re getting blocked by a dreaded dialogue box that says, “Word cannot give a document the same name as an open document.” Argh!

I ran into this using MS Word on Mac OS X (in multiple versions of the operating system and through multiple updates of Word from Microsoft). However, it seems that Windows users also have the same issue. Word just won’t let you save it as a template. What to do?

Try this quick and easy solution: Save as the .DOTX only after first saving as a .DOT. It’s that easy!

  1. Click File > Save.
  2. Under “Format” choose “.DOT” (Word 97 – 2004 Template). (Notice that we are not doing .DOTX yet.)
  3. Repeat above steps, but this time choose .DOTX. Viola!

This will essentially give you two of the same template, but that does not hurt. In fact, one could serve as a backup, just in case.

Sound off in the comments and let me know whether this helps or not.

No more snow?

Here in West Virginia, as in many parts of the country, this past winter poured many, many snow storms on us (above average), and even the so-called early spring has had several snow storms.

Today, on April 7, by faith I officially turned off the artificial snowflakes feature of this blog, with hopes that the last snow of the season is behind us. This is despite the fact that it is currently still quite chilly here, and there were reports of snow in some parts of West Virginia as recently as night before last!

Algore, how’s that “global warming” thing working out for you?

(My study of the research indicates there has been no evidence of global warming for over 15 years, yet government officials and tree-hugger “science” people still cling to their stance about it, while others want to continue to foster gestapo-style tactics under the moniker of “climate change” instead of “global warming.” Sigh.)

The Demise of the Preacher’s iPhone

The-Demise-of-Preacher's-iPhone

This was loosely based on a true story, except I was trying to get Siri to put my phone in a “do not disturb” mode. (That was before Apple had ever added such a feature. I think I’m the sole cause they did.) I had worked all day, all night, and all day, and had only a few minutes to grab a quick nap before having to get up again. I tried every way I could get to Siri to stop my phone from ringing for 40 minutes and then have her switch my phone back to normal. (I was concerned that putting my phone in silent mode would hinder its regular alarm feature. I’m still not solid on that.) After many attempts and many ever weirder replies from Siri, I exhaled with a “Pffhh” of frustration. Siri replied, and I quote, “There’s no need to curse.” At that point I remembered I was arguing with a computer program, set the regular alarm, and went to sleep. True story.

PS: The Siri quote, “I’d rather you didn’t,” is also based on a true story. One day she got things so turned around she actually said that to me. I cannot now remember the exact weirdness, but it was up there with the weirdness of “There’s no need to curse.”

Teens aren’t abandoning “social.” They’re just using the word correctly. | Understandings & Epiphanies | Medium

Advertisers are perplexed and a little angst-y.

I know this, because I work in advertising. Wait. Don’t stop reading because I admitted that. This isn’t about advertising. It just happens to start there.

“Teens Are Leaving Social Media in Droves Oh My God We’re Doomed Hold Me”

A few weeks ago, that was basically the subject line in every advertising industry newsletter. The source of the panic was a just-released study by Piper Jaffray that asked 5,000 teens to name their “Most Important Social Media Site.”

The result? Many old-school social media sites saw a fairly significant dip in preference over six and twelve months.

Read more via: Teens aren’t abandoning “social.” They’re just using the word correctly. — Understandings & Epiphanies — Medium.

9 Things You’re Doing Wrong With Your iPhone

If you’re anything like us, your smartphone is your precious baby. Unfortunately, you probably don’t treat it as well as you should. Here are some things you’re probably doing wrong with your iPhone:

1. Never turning it off

You really should be turning your phone off periodically, or your battery will die faster than it should. Leaving it on and idle stresses the battery, experts say. If you, like us, use your phone as your alarm clock, consider picking up a cheap (or fancy — why not?) alarm clock, or turning it off for another period of time during the day.

2. Leaving the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on all the time

When your iPhone has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled and isn’t using one or both, it’s… [read more via 9 Things You’re Doing Wrong With Your iPhone].

3 Lies That Sprint Employees “Tell” (+ My Success Activating Sprint iPhone on Net10)

Note: Consider reading Part 1 of this ongoing saga here. This is a continuation of that earlier article.

Let me say, at the start, that I currently have, in my hands, an iPhone 4s that originated with Sprint, and it is currently activated on the Net10 carrier and functioning, and the device has never been “jailbroken,” nor has any GPP chip, or any other strange, after-market SIM card, been used or needed. That’s just for sake of clarity and so you can trust that this article is not leading you on any wild goose chase.

Before we ever left Sprint, I called them to talk about options for lowering our monthly bill. We had been excellent Sprint customers for between 9 and 10 years.  I was told that there was no way to lower our bill on their post-paid service, but that by going with their pre-paid service we could get a better deal. However, I was told that our current iPhones (two of them, a 4 and a 4s), which were purchased through Sprint contracts and were fully paid-for and owned by us, would not be accepted on Sprint’s pre-paid service; I was told by the Sprint rep that we would need to buy new phones. Seriously? Furthermore, I was told there was absolutely no way to switch us over from Sprint post-paid to Sprint pre-paid by a phone call to Sprint: the only option was to physically go to a Sprint store.

At that point I pressed until I was permitted to speak to a proclaimed supervisor. He indicated that it was perhaps possible that I might be able to get our current iPhones switched over (unlocked) for use with Sprint’s pre-paid service, but, if so, it would only be by physically going to a Sprint store. I pressed more. He insisted, supporting the earlier rep’s claim that there was absolutely no way to switch us over to pre-paid without physically going to a Sprint store. (While that may be Sprint’s policy decision, it is not because of any genuine technological need to physically go to a store. They could do this over the phone if they wanted to.) I made clear to him that if Sprint did not lower our monthly bill during that current call, I would soon be leaving Sprint by porting our numbers to another carrier. He essentially conveyed, so sorry; no can do; so long.

I then called back (connecting with a different employee, of course) and said I wanted to have my Sprint iPhone 4 and Sprint iPhone 4s unlocked. I was still in service with them at that time, with the account paid up and in good standing. I told the rep that both phones were fully paid for, their contracts were satisfied, and I wanted them unlocked. The rep put me on hold, then eventually came back and verbally gave me an “unlock code” for the iPhone 4.

  • Error/Deception #1:
    “Let us get you that MSL code.”
    For an iPhone, an “unlock code” (also known as an “MSL code”) is worthless. The MSL code cannot be used to unlock an iPhone. According to Apple’s websitethe only way to unlock an iPhone is for the carrier of the device’s origin to send in a request to Apple to unlock the device, which results in a change in a database maintained by Apple. Anyone who knows their stuff knows this. So, is this offer (made to me by multiple Sprint employees) merely an indication of their ignorance? Or is this a less-than-honest tactic? Whether through deceit or ignorance, often Sprint employees seem to think that giving out the MSL code is the thing to do. It usually satisfies the caller and gets them off the line!

Interestingly, after more hold time, the rep told me that he could not get the “unlock code” (MSL code) for my iPhone 4s.  He said it could not be unlocked except for international use on Sprint’s overseas network (which uses a GSM network instead of a CDMA network). The key point here is that when I asked about it being unlocked, while I was still in service with them, I was told no.

Over time, I have been given a litany of so-called “reasons” by various Sprint employees as to why they either could not, or would not, unlock my iPhone 4s. All were either “mistaken” statements or outright lies. I made requests both while I was in service with them (with the contract satisfied and the account paid up and in good standing) and after having left Sprint. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Error/Deception #2:
    “It’s impossible to switch an iPhone to another carrier, due to incompatibility.”
    In the alternate reality where Sprint and its mal-trained employees live, an iPhone that originated with Sprint can only communicate with Sprint’s network, which is a CDMA network, therefore the phone can only work as a Sprint device. They imply that the device’s hardwired frequencies are supposedly unique to Sprint. This is a clever deception. The truth is, other carriers can and do provide service for devices that originated with Sprint, some by the fact that they lease cell tower time from Sprint. Thus, you can do business with other carriers, such as Net10 or Ting, using a device that came from Sprint, and have smartphone service for about half the money you were paying to Sprint. Yet the Sprint employee, reading from a carefully-crafted narrative written either by the devil himself or a lawyer that is a close cousin to the devil, would have you believe that, basically, outside of their network, a Sprint iPhone 4 is good for nothing; an expensive paperweight (it is not large enough or heavy enough to be a doorstop). The way Sprint treats its customers over this causes their devices to be less valuable in the resale market. Regardless, I would never want to resell it to someone (resulting in another Sprint customer), because I would not wish Sprint’s service and policies on my worst enemy! Bottom line: Sprint leaves one with the understanding that the device’s only possible use is via wi-fi as an expensive, makeshift “iPod.” The Sprint iPhone 4 has only a CDMA radio. The 4s is the same regarding its CDMA radio and its frequencies, but different because it has a GSM radio too, which was placed there for overseas use. However, in theory its GSM radio could be used domestically, yet only if one can get it freed up by Sprint.

After porting my numbers away from Sprint, I did some more online research and found claims (for instance, here) of people saying they convinced Sprint to  unlock a 4s. However, disregard all such mentions of Sprint having given out an “unlock code,” as those codes are useless. One post I found spoke of the need to have Sprint remove a “CDMA carrier flag” from the iPhone 4s, and, regarding the GSM radio in the 4s, asking Sprint to send in a request to Apple to unlock the phone. That seems like the valid way to do it, but all my direct requests to Sprint employees for that, have resulted in flat refusals. Some reports have mistakenly indicated that all unlocking has to be done while the phone is still in service with Sprint. That is incorrect. That policy only applies to Sprint unlocking the GSM radio in an iPhone for overseas use on foreign carriers via SIM card. Still, it is noteworthy that I had requested an unlock of my 4s while it was still in service with Sprint, yet I was refused. (Regarding the fact that I later tried some more, calling Sprint again after porting my number out, it also should be noted that a Sprint employee could, if they wanted to, temporarily and remotely reactivate any deactivated Sprint phone that has been unaffected since deactivation. One of their employees had done that for me before in unrelated work.) However, the ultimate answer to that is the policy only applies to requests for Sprint to unlock the GSM radio for overseas use, which has nothing to do with unlocking it for domestic use.

Sprint employees have told me they “have never contacted Apple,” that “it is not something [they] do,” that they “don’t have any way to do that,” and they “don’t have any procedure for doing that,” and finally, the grand poobah of all such lies: one Sprint employee actually told me “it’s against the law” for him to have Apple unlock the device!

  • Error/Deception #3:
    “It’s illegal for us to have Apple unlock the iPhone for you.”
    There is a decent law currently on the books, that, in effect, prevents, say, Carrier B from causing Apple to unlock a device that is still with Carrier A—the device’s carrier of origin. However, nothing in that law prevents Sprint from having Apple unlock a device that originated with Sprint! Yet in the alternate reality in which Sprint and its mal-trained employees live, some employees claim that the law actually prevents Carrier A from unlocking a device that originated with Carrier A. Ludicrous!

On Sunday, February 2, 2014, I spent more time on the phone (and on hold several times) with Sprint, eventually speaking to three different people, of which the first (Chloe) and third (Amanda) were those whose names I could understand well enough to include here.

Previously, a rep named Kimberly had given me what she said was “the direct number for the Tech Team” (855-899-7924). I decided to call that number. Not surprisingly, it did not lead to the Tech Team, but rather to a normal rep, named Chloe. She listened to my explanation and plea, found my account record, validated my identity, and then told me I needed to speak to the Tech Team. She put me through. After some time on hold, someone (ostensibly from the Tech Team) answered. She also (again) listened to my explanation and plea, found my account record, validated my identity, and then told me I needed to speak to the International Team. She put me through. After some more time on hold, someone from the International Team picked up. Her name was Amanda. She also (for my third time in that call) listened to my explanation and plea, found my account record, validated my identity, and then spent some time trying to discern exactly which device in their system I was calling about. She then set about trying to find out when it was purchased.

Based on my research, I had mentioned the FCC chairman’s letter and the subsequent announcement by the major carriers to voluntarily comply, and I had then asked for the “CDMA carrier flag” to be removed from my iPhone 4s, and, regarding its GSM radio, I asked for her to send in a request to Apple to unlock the phone. Amanda flatly told me that she does not ever send in requests to Apple. She said it’s not something they do.

Amanda then stated that if my phone was purchased and shipped on or before November 11, 2011 (easy to remember: 11-11-11) that my phone already had its GSM radio unlocked by the Apple factory before shipment—though only for international use, not for domestic use. Pay attention to that last part. She was not telling me that Apple has my phone listed as unlocked. Apple only has it listed such that an overseas SIM card will work, and that can only happen if I actually have the phone overseas and activate a foreign-bought SIM card for overseas use.

I told Amanda that I had read of other carriers routinely sending unlock requests to Apple to modify the database record of a certain phone [which facilitates what in this industry is called a “factory unlock”] and I indicated that was what I wanted to be done for my iPhone. She indicated that they just don’t do that. I advised her that, based on my reading of the joint announcement by major carriers including hers, her information seemed obsolete. She stated that she “apologized.” She still refused to offer to contact Apple.

After I hung up, I went to the Net10 website and ordered a domestic SIM card and activation kit on the chance that it just might work for this iPhone 4s. (If not, the items would be useful for some other device in the future.) Net10’s limited-time promotion offered free overnight shipping. The SIM card and service activation kit arrived Wednesday, February 5.

Update (as of Thursday, February 6):

Yesterday and today (Feb. 5-6) have been a techno-yoyo, a bit of a roller coaster, regarding cell phone activation efforts and hopes. When the SIM card arrived yesterday, I installed it according the instructions, and I called Net10, a carrier that supports both GSM network access and CDMA network access (basically via cell tower time leased from major carriers such as AT&T, Sprint, etc). Some of my reasoning for going ahead and ordering the SIM card was this: while I’m no mobile-network expert, it seemed that if a SIM card can reprogram the radio, then it can reprogram the radio. I figured that if I was wrong, and I found that the phone is still domestically limited to Sprint-only use (because of a database somewhere, apparently at Apple), then I will continue to pursue having Sprint unlock it. I figured that sooner or later I would need the SIM card anyway. I fully expected to get this 4s working on some GSM carrier (some company other than Sprint) sooner or later—hopefully sooner.

The SIM card was immediately recognized by the iPhone, but the SIM was found to be “not valid.”  I called Net10, and a helpful employee told me that I needed to abandon the GSM approach, and let Net10 use the iPhone’s CDMA radio. She said this would work. It would require an access code that costs $14.99 (with tax and fees it came to $15.89). I used a credit card over the phone and bought that code. She went through the steps to transfer the desired number to the iPhone. We ended the call with certain instructions about what I was to do.

I followed the directions, but the phone never started working, and continued to say “Sprint” in the connection area. I called Net10 back. After I was transferred from one to another, and then another, of Net10’s help staff, one of them finally told me that he thought it would never work, because, he feared, the iPhone had never been unlocked.

By this time it was too late at night to keep bothering with it. I decided to wait until the next day and try to have Net10 switch our number back to the Net10 Android we were using for it.

The next day, Feb. 6, I called Net10 back for the above stated purpose. I wish I had just checked the iPhone. I wish I had just tried to dial a call. Unbeknown to me, it had activated during the night, and it was working! But the night before, the Net10 website had told me the pairing (of the phone number to the phone) was classed as a “fail.” That, combined with the words of the tech support agent who told me it would not work, caused me to give up on it.

I had Net10 switch the number away from the iPhone. As soon as I hung up from doing so, I noticed some text messages had arrived on the iPhone during the night. They seemed to be intended for my wife. (It’s her number that we had moved to the iPhone.) I grew hopeful. I picked up the phone, and dialed my own cell. The call went through, and the caller ID showed my wife’s number as the incoming caller!

I then called Net10 back and asked them to cancel the re-moving of the number. They did not succeed in that, but they were willing to do a re-re-moving of the number! (Is that even a word?) I don’t remember how many Net10 customer service reps I spoke to on this date, but it was somewhere around three to four. I do remember which one finally got it done for me: Kendra. Kudos to you madam!

Important note about the “service update code” supplied by Net10 employees:

All the Net10 employees told me to use the following code to get the service update to happen on the phone:

Dial ##72786# and press the “send” button. — NO GOOD. 

However, that does not do anything of value. I remembered that during my many previous calls to Sprint, one of the reps had told me a service update code as follows:

Dial ##873283# and press the “send” button. — WORKS.

Whenever the former code is used then a call gets placed, and a prerecorded voice tells you that you’re not able to place a call. Whenever the latter code is used, you see this hope-inspiring message:

IMG_1127

Honestly, I don’t know whether that service update code helped or was in any way necessary, but if so, then my article would be incomplete without it. So, I am including it here.

Within about 90 minutes of Kendra (of Net10) making the number switch back to the iPhone (and after me repeatedly applying the latter service update code mentioned above), I got the following message on the iPhone in focus:

IMG_1128

Notice that in the service area it again states “Sprint” as the network, but the phone is with Net10, for about half the price of Sprint! The mention of Sprint in the service area (upper left corner) is apparently due to the fact that Net10 is leasing cell tower time from Sprint. I’m fine with that.

I should add two important notes:

  • After successful activation of an iPhone on Net10’s “BYOP” (Bring Your Own Phone) option, you need to make another call to them and have them help you do something called “update the APN” so you get full advantage of services on the iPhone.
  • While I was on the phone in the latest call with Net10, Kendra told me that a memo had come through just today, saying that Sprint iPhone 4 and Sprint iPhone 4s devices were compatible with Net10. This was presumably a result of high-level negotiations between Sprint and Net10’s parent company.
  • It seems clear that Sprint can somehow convey to Net10 whether a formerly Sprint device is cleared (contract satisfied, bill paid) and allowed to be used in service with Net10. A full and proper unlocking (a factory unlock from Sprint via Apple) is not needed to use the device with such companies that buy wholesale minutes on Sprint’s towers. A full unlock is still the right thing for Sprint to do, but it is unneeded for use on Ting and Net10, etc.
  • I will now be working to activate my iPhone 4 that also originated with Sprint.

Final update:

I later succeeded in getting our iPhone 4 (note: now both 4s and 4) activated with Net10 also. On both these phones I did not need to bother with convincing Sprint to admit to me that they had contacted Apple. (After many tries, I’m convinced their corporate culture won’t allow it.)  Net10 apparently has an agreement with Sprint that makes it unnecessary, but both phones are now fully functional on a different carrier, for about half the cost of Sprint.