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Mobile Connectivity for US-Bound Canadians

I recently traveled to Seattle. The last time I went, I did not arrange for US-based connectivity for my cell phone, so I was on roaming mode while updating Facebook, taking and uploading photos, and looking up information on the go. I got clobbered on my next phone bill. Well in advance of my more recent trip, I decided to prepare by signing up for a travel-friendly service.

Enter Roam Mobility. This Canada-based company provides mobile connectivity to Canadians traveling to the USA.

To use Roam Mobility, one must have a Roam Mobility SIM card. While this can be ordered from the company website, it is likely also available in local stores. I was able to purchase one in London Drugs for $20. I then had to register the SIM on my Roam Mobility account:

Roam Mobility - Managing Devices

With the SIM attached to my account, I then set up a service plan for the duration of my trip. The offerings are surprisingly inexpensive compared to the prices offered by the Canadian carriers – the comparisons are revealing. There are a number of overall plans available:

Roam Mobility - Plans

While I did not anticipate needing phone calls or text messages, there were no data-only options, so I selected the Talk+Text+Data option. The next view revealed specific options:

Roam Mobility - Plan Selection

Fortunately, I was in Seattle for much of three days (over a weekend), so the 3-day option suited me. Selecting that, I was able to select my already-registered SIM to attach the service:

Roam Mobility - Attaching Service to a SIM

The option is provided to specify what days/times the service should span. The website notes that multiple plans can be set up consecutively for continuous service over a longer period, if needed.

I then went through the payment process which was straightforward. I purchased the SIM, created an account, and set up the service a few days in advance of the trip.

On arriving in Seattle, I took the cover off my phone, removed my normal SIM, and inserted the Roam Mobility SIM. There is then a little configuration to be done on the mobile device – Roam Mobility provides directions for common smartphone platforms. It’s really just a matter of updating the Access Point Name setting. I made sure to keep my normal SIM in a safe place during the trip; on my return home, I switched the SIMs again to go back to my regular service.

This was overall a straightforward process. The website provided enough information on how to make the network change when appropriate. The network was quick where there was good coverage, which applied to most parts of downtown Seattle that I passed through.

The primary caveat is that the phone must be unlocked so it will work with SIM cards from other carriers. I thought – assumed! – mine was already unlocked, so started my stay in Seattle with a phone that could not use the local network. Oops. Fortunately, my hotel had secure guest Wi-Fi, so I was able to purchase an unlock code and have my phone on the T-Mobile network the next morning. Once I got past that hurdle, all was good.

To sum, I had to purchase a SIM, purchase service for the weekend, and purchase an unlock code. Added up to more than I planned on, but the SIM and the unlock code are one-time purchases. In advance of a future trip, I can just use the same SIM and attach another service plan to it. Lesson learned: make sure the phone is unlocked before traveling!

Why Comments Still Matter

Catching up on a backlog of news feeds, I happened on the post by Sarah Gooding on WP Tavern regarding the value of blog comments. The post was inspired by CopyBlogger turning comments off earlier this year; ironically, the WP Tavern post has 56 comments as of this writing, in and of itself affirming the value of comments on blog posts, never mind the comments themselves.

Why Comments Matter: My Opinion

My view is that comments are part of what make up the blogging experience, both for the writer and for readers. The following list lays out my reasons for having comments available on my blog, and why I like seeing them on other blogs:

  • They encourage readers to add supplementary information, link to other resources, or just to thank the writer for the post
    • This can lead to the comments section adding a wealth of value to the original post, often in the form of additional information or links to elsewhere
  • Comments provide the writer feedback, acknowledgement for the post, and a sense of satisfaction
    • I don’t get a lot of comments on this site, but I’m always pleased to receive legitimate (non-spammy) comments
  • Commenters make themselves known to the blog author, as well as to other readers
    • Leads to social connections and networking – even if it is over the internet
  • They encourage conversation on the site, on the same page as the post
    • Discussion can be done over e.g. Twitter, Facebook, or other means, but having comments as part of the blog keeps the conversation intact and reduces external dependencies

The above list applies to me as both a blog writer and a reader. I get value both ways, and I suspect many others do as well. That is why I keep comments open on this site for some time after posts are published (I do close them eventually to prevent spam trickling in on old posts).

For me, the bottom line is that comments facilitate two-way sharing of information, enable creation of connections, and add a bit of humanity to what would otherwise be monologues.

The Future of WordPress

A very eloquent review of where WordPress stands in today’s web and of what it can be made into. Includes ideas for where WordPress might go in the future, some criticisms, and input from notable community members. Well worth a read for anyone who wants to check the current view of WordPress. Some good discussion in the comments as well – whoever said comments were dead??

Huge News! Get Windows 8 and Windows Phone Controls for FREE for the Duration of TechEd 2014

TechEd 2014 is on, and I’m envious that I’m not in attendance. However, Telerik, purveyor of controls for application development, are giving away licenses for their Windows 8 and Windows Phone control packs over the duration of TechEd. I’ve gone through the claim process, the licenses are equivalent to the one-year subscription options, and apparently can be renewed or upgraded. Not only that, but Telerik are working on components for the new universal apps, and have stated that these new components will be added free of charge to the accounts of any who get the free tools this week!

This is a fabulous offering for those on the fence over trying the tools, and very timely for me as I was planning to purchase a Windows 8 pack. I save some money now, and just might be renewing later – many thanks to Telerik for the freebie. The generosity is much appreciated so I can get started on Windows 8 application development.

Kayakers

Strollin’ and Shootin’ Sidney Saturday

Joined a local photography meetup group for a stroll around Sidney’s waterfront on Saturday April 19, 2014. Overcast and cool. The rain held off until we were done.

Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

Bill Gates

WordPress Glossary

The WPBeginner site has unveiled a new resource for WordPressers: a glossary. WordPress resources are abundant online, but there has not been a canonical glossary on the subject – the Codex is good for what it does, but it is not a glossary. WPBeginner have taken the initiative to create a centralized listing of WordPress-related terms, along with their definitions, and link to related content as appropriate (good SEO win for WPBeginners as well). It’s a good start, but there’s much more that can be added; the people behind the site are open to suggestions! They are also interested in volunteers to help with managing the glossary.

Read the announcement post.

WordPress through the ages

A look back at the evolution of the WordPress interface, both in default themes and the administrative interface. I started with WordPress in the 1.2 days, and remember how much more basic it was then!

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

Joseph Goebbels

2013 Holiday Season Advents

It’s that time again…time for holiday season advent calendars! (more…)

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