Thursday, September 09, 2010

An In-Depth Look at Foxconn and the Man Who Rules It [Foxconn]

An In-Depth Look at Foxconn and the Man Who Rules It [Foxconn]: "
Bloomberg Businessweek has just dropped an incredibly in-depth look at controversial Chinese electronics supplier Foxconn and its founder, Terry Gou. It's the most thorough look to date at one of the most powerful—and intriguing—manufacturers in the world. More »


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

USB 3.0 Hard Drives So Fast and Small That Even a Monkey Wants Them [LaCie]

USB 3.0 Hard Drives So Fast and Small That Even a Monkey Wants Them [LaCie]: "
I don't know what this cute little creature is up to, but the hard drives he's fondling are some of the world's smallest USB 3.0 drives: The LaCie Rikiki and the Minimus. More »

For Sale: One Space Shuttle, 120 Million Miles [Found On Craigslist]

For Sale: One Space Shuttle, 120 Million Miles [Found On Craigslist]: "

Clever Craigslist tribute or a cunning diss of NASA policy? You decide. More »


iPhone 4 VOIP Solution

So you really want a new iPhone 4, but the idea of coughing up nearly 4 grand to a carrier over 3 years is probably a sobering thought. I’m going to write out a way to help you get that phone and save a lot of money.

Now these numbers I am going to present are a little rough, but I am one who is absolutely against cell phone contracts. They do not benefit the customer in any way and you’re bound to the carrier for 3 years while that monthly bill sucks the last remaining bit of blood from you.

Because of this I have run some rough numbers searching for a solution, I believe I have come up with something which will be quite beneficial to you.

Here is a proposal for you.

Scenario A:

iPhone 4g Carrier 36 month contract

An iPhone 4 is purchased from your choice of carrier on a 36 month contract at an estimated 110.00 / month plan, this includes activation, voice and data as well as all charges and taxes but not any incurred long distance charges over the plan minutes. Tthis is assuming you have a Voice, Data and Messaging plan – this is not too far off as my 3GS from Rogers was always around 112/month while my wife’s 3G is 108 monthly, for assumptions sake I’ve set the monthly bill at $110.00.

Within this plan you would have ~250 minutes of long distance, evening and weekends free, a data plan and possibly a my-five and / or a messaging (sms) plan as well.

The phone is $299.99 + HST + activation and then paid monthly for 3 years, if the user of the phone never exceeds voice and data the total amount after the first year would be an estimated $1655.98.

Since there is a sunken cost for the phone, the contract price would be approximately $1320.00 / year for the following two years bringing the grand total of the 3 year voice / data iPhone contract to $4,295.98

Scenario B:

Buying an iPhone 4 directly from Apple

Apple now allows you to purchase, directly from them a carrier unlocked, contract free iPhone 4, you may also get an iPhone 3GS but for this experiment we’re going with the newest, top of the line smartphone they offer.

The iPhone 4 (32gb) is available directly from apple for $729.00 plus HST, shipping is generally free so I won’t include it in my calculations. The initial cost is higher, because it is not being subsidized by the long term contract and can freely be used on any carrier the user chooses. This is also a ‘ world phone ‘ and can be used with any compatible GSM Micro SIM regardless of your location if you travel. It is carrier unlocked and contract free, you could switch at will provided you have activated Micro SIMs from whichever carrier you choose.

An iPad SIM is used so that the iPhone is activated and used as an unlocked, contract free data only device, there are no monthly charges beyond the $15.00 for MB data or $35.00 for 5gb of data (note 250MB of data = approximately 5000 minutes, all calling on Wi-Fi would not use any of your data plan). iPad SIMS are available for free from your carrier, simply walk in and ask for one, they’ll hand you one over the counter and you’ll be good to go. Keep in mind these SIMS have voice disabled on them, which is why they’re free – but this is 2010, we no longer need a cellular connection to make voice calls.

So for Scenario B we will presume the $15.00 for 250MB per month data plan is purchased, and for voice we will use the SkypeInCanada business service provided by Oneking Telecom which will give a local Canadian number, call display (both ways) voice mail with email auto forward - this service is $14.81 USD / month using a PayPal subscription.

729.00 + HST + $15.00 (data) + $15.00 (voice) equals out to a total the first year of$1,176.88. Even though the initial cost is higher, spread over the months of the first year the saving is actually $479.10 because of the cheaper monthly costs.

After the 1st year, into the following two carrier contracted years, the savings spread grows further. With Scenario A, expect to pay roughly $1320.00 per year as opposed to $360.00 per year with Scenario
B, this gives further savings of $1896.88 or $2399.10 over the duration of the contract.

Now, what would you do with a spare $2400.00 in your pocket? I can certainly think of a few things.

There are a few caveats to Scenario B – for one there is no SMS messaging, but this does not matter as with the data plan it is very simple to send email as the phone has a full data plan and can be used on both wireless and 3G cellular data networks. There are several great texting applications, one, which I am using is TextFree+ ($2.99 iTunes) on my iPad. It has a very intelligent design, and so far has allowed unlimited texting to any cellular number I have tried for free – there is a slight delay in sending, maybe 2-3 seconds, but that is because the message is being sent from my iPad, routed through my Gmail, routed through TextFrees server in Ontario and then sent to the destination cellular customers. Also some, not all 1-800, 1-888 and 1-877 numbers do not work, in these instances companies usually have a direct dial number and since there are no long distance charges this issue is moot.

Activating the iPad SIM directly in the iPhone 4 will not work, the SIM itself will be rejected – you have to activate it on an iPad first, so get friendly with the people around you who own one. Once activated, remove it from the iPad, insert it into the iPhone and under general-settings set your APN to Broadband. This activates the DATA ONLY portion of the SIM and you’ll be able to use all the data features your phone has. There are a few which don’t work obviously, the cellular calling app, Facetime video calling (but in a future update this will be initiated via your iTunes account, not your cellular number) and the SMS application, but that has a solution I described above.

In addition, you can use the number on your own work PC, home PC, laptop or wherever you may be using the free X-Lite software or Bria Professional which is a onetime charge of 45.00 USD per license, it
works for windows as well as OSX (Mac) platforms. If you miss a call, your inbound call goes directly to voicemail and then is emailed to you with a copy of the message in .wav format. I choose this as on my iPad as I get Gmail push notifications and can play the message through the iPads mail client.

In Summary, Scenario B's savings far outweigh the negatives of using this service. I have it on my own device as my main phone, plus I use it on my home Mac and my work PC simply by having the software installed and a couple of cameras with built in condenser mics I picked up from EBay on the cheap. It has worked superbly over the last two months of using it. I have no issues recommending it over a contracted phone from a major carrier.

If data use is more important than voice calling and if you can buy the phone outright to begin with you will save yourself almost $2400.00, have that shiny new top of the line iPhone 4 32gb, have a very small monthly bill. You just need to be willing to jump through a few hoops, but its easy, really really easy.

For further information have a look at this video for project iLiberation – Thanks to Weaksauce12 for his inspiration in getting this working on the US side which gave me the idea for a Canadian solution.

And for more details on Counterpath Bria, both pc/mac and iphone editions, click here.