AT&T Is Waking Up To International Roaming

I just read that AT&T is coming out with a new international roaming plan tomorrow. On the surface this seems to be a positive move.

Keep in mind I don’t know any details about this yet but it’s supposedly $10/day to use your regular bucket of data/text/voice. Meaning if you have unlimited voice and text with 10gb of data you can act as normal when abroad if you’re paying the $10/day fee plus it will be at 4G speeds. This seems like a good deal for short trips and lay overs or for heavy data users. Don’t forget that you already get free calls and text (I think), though I’m not sure about the data in Canada and Mexico.

For folks who don’t use much data the AT&T Passport  roaming plan may be a better bet.

As a whole this is a step in the right direction but I’m not sure it’s a big enough step for regular international travelers. T-Mobile and Sprint both offer free roaming at 2G and 3G speeds which is OK. I know AT&T is out of T-Mobile and Sprint’s league but I would have liked to see a more competitive plan or additional offers like $40-$50/month.

Keep up the good work AT&T, you’re doing the right things to keep me as a customer, just keep moving in this direction.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Active Review

I was very excited when AT&T asked me to join them at Hurricane Harbor to “test” the recently launched (yup, I’m very late to publish this) Samsung Galaxy S7 Active.
We were a small group at the water park but we made a big splash. Thank you AT&T for the fun day and the oppourtunity to review this phone.

The water park was fun but fast forward 2 months (see how late this really is…) and I took a family vacation with my wife and 2 kids. We went to Hawaii and spent a week being tourists. Every day we were swimming, snorkeling or just being lazy in the water. I am an iPhone guy, it has it’s benefits for me personally but I was using the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active a lot during this vacation. I took it into the ocean to play in the surf, the pool taking underwater selfies with my kids and videos of them on the hotels water slide and I even took it snorkeling, where I new it wasn’t very deep so if I dropped it I could retrieve it. That’s my one compliant about the phone, it needs to have the ability to attach a wrist strap or something like that.

Now to talk about the other details… It’s not small, it’s not thin and it’s not graceful but darn it this thing was amazing. I loved knowing I had a rugged phone in my pocket, not my dainty iPhone. The Active felt good in the hand, the battery lasted the day while I was using it for maps, keeping on top of my email and taking a LOT of pictures/videos.
For me having 1 device that was my phone and camera is great but it’s what most people expect in this day and age and Samsung didn’t disappoint. I’m not a camera aficionado but I think the Active takes better pictures then my iPhone 6S in that the colors pop more. I don’t know if that’s the phone enhancing the pictures for me but I don’t care, I was taking pictures underwater.
That’s it, it’s a Samsung Android phone, big whoop but it is if you have kids or live an active lifestyle. I’ve reviewed LifeProof cases before and they are great but there’s nothing like having a phone built to be tough. If you are a weekend warrior or have kids who seem to spill liquids or drop your phone then this phone is for you.
The holidays are coming and I can promise you that I would be stoked to get one of these as a gift. The Samsung Galaxy S7 Active is exclusive to AT&T so go get it there.

Helping CA Become the 1st State to Reach 250,000 EVs on the Road

It’s stuff like this that makes me proud to write about AT&T so often.ATT Drive 1

Today, hundreds of AT&T employees in California were among the first to test-drive certain electric cars as part of a statewide education initiative led by the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative (PEV Collaborative) to help California become the first state to reach 250,000 electric vehicles on the road by the end of the year. During the event, PEV Collaborative Executive Director Christine Kehoe announced the DRIVE THE DREAM Ride-and-Drive Summer Celebration. California Air Resources Board (CARB) Chair Mary Nichols gave an update on California’s electric vehicle (EV) market. AT&T California President Ken McNeely asked all 36,000 AT&T employees statewide to consider purchasing an electric vehicle and encouraged them to take advantage of an average of $3279 in savings through employee discounts programs offered by the company.

ATT Drive 2

Exciting Stuff From AT&T 

  So much has been talked about during the AT&T Developer Summit this morning and lots of it is interesting. 

For me the most exciting topics we heard about and I talked to heavy hitting executives about is 

WiFi Calling: Calls made over wifi, for example in a basement or deep inside a building where the cellular network can’t reach. 

VoLTE: Calls made over the LTE (4G) network. This makes calls extremely clear and ideally without packet loss. 

Number Sync: 1 number for all your connected devices. This allows you to send a text from your tablet or smart watch from your cell phone number. 

What does this all mean for AT&T customers? You will have a greatly enhanced experience with all your connected devices, from crystal clear calls anywhere you can get wifi to responding to text messages showing your cell number from a network connected watch or tablet. 

What will you use all this for?

The New Digital Experience Center

Perform Ice SculptureAt PERFORM 2015 this week, Dynatrace unveiled what it called the world’s first Digital Experience Center (DEC) – it’s a business-focused command center of the future that provides businesses critical, real-time analysis of all customer experiences – including mobile — that will enable organizations to holistically, accurately and proactively measure and manage their digital businesses.

  •        Just as the network operations center (NOC) became the technically-focused command center for IT infrastructure management, the DEC is the business-focused command center that will make sure customers are happy – whether they are on PCs, smartphones, tablets, or in India or Indiana.
  •        Powered by Dynatrace’s latest user experience management (UEM) open framework, the DEC enables business stakeholders to see how customers are experiencing their services, in real-time, across digital and physical channels.
  •        Companies can now bring together user experience, conversion metrics, social, location and other third-party data in a single, real-time, business cockpit.
  •       The DEC further enables clean and simple handoffs from business teams to technical counterparts to address potential issues immediately.

And it is important to note that the DEC isn’t static – it is LIVE here at PERFORM, and is measuring and analyzing data in real-time about the attendees, including me. The PERFORM mobile application is integrated with 20 beacons capturing data over Bluetooth (similar to being in a big box store) and is linked to Twitter to correlate social media activity.

It’s complicated, but the interface is simple and really cool – you can see it in this video… Click HERE to watch the video (the ability to embed was turned off). 

We Know the Dangers of Texting & Driving, but Do It Anyway

imgresDo you text and drive?  Survey says…you probably do!

In a new survey commissioned by AT&T, 98% of drivers with cellphones text while driving on a regular basis and said they were aware of the dangers, yet they continue to drive, despite laws against it in some states.  Other startling findings include:

– 28% of drivers say they can do several things at once while driving

74% of drivers admit to glancing at their phones while behind the wheel

The survey came as AT&T expanded availability of a free app that silences text message alerts and activates automatically when a person is moving 15 miles per hour or faster.

The AT&T DriveMode app is coming to iPhones after being available on Android and BlackBerry phones.

I got that all from a press release, yup. We’re all a bunch of idiots and think we’re better than everyone else.  If you’re texting and driving your putting yourself at risk but more importantly ME and my family.  Problem is, I’ve texted and driven in  the past and on rare occasion I still do.  I’m going to practice what I preach and skip it from now on.  This isn’t a one time commitment, it’s like being an alcoholic, every day, minute and second is a fight for some not to pick up their phone while they’re behind the wheel.  I’m on the wagon right now and I plan to stay that way for as long as I can.  What about you?  Can you stop texting and driving?  I hope so because I don’t want to die and I doubt you do either.

Dramatic a little??? YUP. STOP TEXTING AND DRIVING.

Zagg iPad Mini Folio Bluetooth Keyboard

IMG_1232I gave my wife an iPad mini a few months back and she loves it.  She had one of those magnetic flip covers that protected the screen plus propped it up when she was watching videos.  The thing was my wife was still stuck to using her Mac for email and shopping because she wasn’t a fan of typing on the iPad screen. I was surprised when she told me she wanted a bluetooth keyboard, I didn’t think she’d ever consider that kind of thing.  I LOVE the Zagg Folio iPad keyboard I was given to review a few years back so I didn’t think twice about getting the Zagg Folio case and keyboard for her.  I haven’t used it as much as she has so I’ll tell  you what she has to say…

What MacBook?  She told me she loves the keyboard and rarely uses her computer any more.  She’s able to write long emails, Facebook messages and input her credit card information so she can shop.  Now her MacBook lies in a drawer with a dead battery.  My wife has taken her iPad with her on trips because she feels like she can do so much more with it.  Side note, it’s AT&T 4G enabled so no more paying for hotel wifi which is a savings every month we travel.

On the detailed side of things the keyboard is not a full size.  It’s probably 75%-80% of a regular size and I have to spend some time getting used to it the few times I’ve used it. The battery lasts for months. My wife was upset when she thought the keyboard stopped working but I asked if she had ever charged and she hadn’t.  This was after at least 3 months of use. She loves the back lit keypad for typing in the dark and the shell is pretty protective.  It’s by no means an Otter Box but it has taken some bumps, bruises and many flights.

There you go, I recommend the Zagg Folio Full Body Compact Case for the iPad Mini.

Who needs a laptop when you can game on a smartphone?

When selecting the best 2014 smartphones for gaming there are a number of decisions that you will need to make. The first is the kind of games you intend to play. If you are looking for the kind of gaming experience that you get on a gaming console, then you are going to need the best smartphone that money can buy, but if you play popular games such as Candy Crush or you play online casino games at, then you can easily get by with a much cheaper model.

You also need to select your operating system. The choices are Apple iOS as used in the iPhone, Google Android, or Microsoft Windows. If it is iOS then your choice is between the iPhone 4/5S or other iPhones. While Windows can be useful if you already have an Xbox One so that you can use a phone such as the Nokia Lumia 1520 as a second screen for your console, generally the operating system is lacking when compared to the other options.

There is a large range of high end Android smartphones. For instance the Samsung Galaxy S5, the HTC One M8, and the Sony Xperia Z2 are all excellent choices. To find the best one for you, you will need to compare their specifications carefully as well as checking out the best deals.

If your gaming needs are more basic and you don’t want to pay those kind of prices, then you can certainly get by with low end Android smartphones such as the various budget lines from ZTE and Huawei.

Although they are relatively cheap, you still get a lot of phone for your money. For instance the ZTE Blade 5 has a 480 x 800 pixel resolution screen, a 5-megapixel camera, a microSD card slot, all for under £100 and the Sony Xperia M costs just £180.

LifeProof Fre Case is the Best (Good Looking) iPhone Protection Available

I’ve been using the the LifeProof Fre case for almost 2 weeks now and it’s been eye opening.  I had high hopes that I would be able to review it and compare it to an OtterBox case and an Incipio rugged case.

Well, no need, I really like the Incipio but I don’t think the screen protector is good up to snuff, the screen doesn’t always recognize my touches.  Though it’s a nice looking case and rugged feeling it’s just not for me.

Next up was the OtterBox, it’s their biggest most rugged case and as nice as it is, it’s not for me either.  You want to know why?  I’ll tell you.  I can’t open the darn thing.  I can’t for the life of me get the metal hinges open to put my phone in.  So the big and VERY popular OtterBox is sadly out of the running.  Maybe if I had a little less rugged version I could try it out.

That brings us to the Fre LifeProof case.  For starters I believe it costs $70 which seems utterly ridiculous but what do I know, I think a scoop of ice cream from Rite Aid (used to be Thrifty Drug Store) should still be a quarter.  Moving past the cost, I absolutely LOVE this case.  It was a cinch to open and put my phone in and I only need a coin, like that quarter for the cone to pry the case open when I want to remove my phone.  I really like the way my iPhone 5s looks in the case as well, it’s not ugly and bulky but semi classy and it turns my black iPhone white.

Supposedly the case is waterproof but I’m not going to test that out, I’ll trust what the outside of the box says, water proof, dust proof, snow proof and drop proof.  For that matter I’m not going to drop my phone in the case either, though it’s supposed to be safe from a 6 foot fall.

There’s a cover for the power port and audio jack cover and one of my concerns was if my iPhone earbuds would work and they do without any problem.  My only issue is my noise canceling headphones don’t fit in the whole so LifeProof was nice enough to include an adapter.

All in all I highly recommend  the LifeProof case for anyone who wants the best, nicest looking and thinnest protection for their phone.

I was sent this on how to get to a human on a PBX system quickly

If you want to get thorough a PBX system fast and not have to wait to talk to someone read this.  It was sent to me by Amy Quinn at and you can find the article here.
Use these methods for surefire ways to find the numbers that VIPs use to get through fast.

  1. Read The Consumerist. The Consumerist regularly features contact information for executive customer- service departments.
  2. Go to the collections department. The collections department tends to answer calls quickly, and you can jump to the head of the line for the correct department in this way.
  3. Search EDGAR. Get information for corporate officers from EDGAR’s SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) filings.
  4. Find important numbers through Check out behind the company’s domain name to reveal live-person numbers.
  5. Call the number for new service. If you’re a prospective customer (even if that’s the truth), a company will snap to answer your call.
  6. Find the right number. Many companies have specific numbers for specific functions, so if you find a specialized number, you’re more likely to get through quickly.
  7. Call the retentions department. If you call the retentions department first, they’ll answer fast and transfer you to the right place.
  8. Do a Web search for the company. Hit your favorite search engine and enter the company’s name, plus terms such as “president,” “investor relations” or “executive service.”
  9. Find disgruntled customers. Again, search engines can help you locate numbers if you enter phrases such as “I hate company ‘X'” or “company ‘X’ sucks.”

What to Press

Confuse, frustrate and game the system by pressing these numbers and characters.

  1. Press zero. Pressing zero will often result in a direct route to a live person. Continue pressing zero until you’re put through. You may need to try combinations such as “0#,” “#0,” “0*” or “*0.”
  2. Memorize prompts. If you’re unfortunate enough to have call about the same issue on a regular basis, memorize the prompts that work for you.
  3. Press the pound key. Skip to the next message or just confuse the system by pressing this character.
  4. Press the star key. Again, the star key can open up system tricks or simply make the system give up on you.
  5. Press everything. By pressing multiple numbers, you can trick systems into thinking you’re on a rotary phone — or that you’re crazy. Either way, you’re in.
  6. Go through the phone prompts. Sometimes it pays to work with the system.
  7. Press any digit repeatedly. You may land in the wrong department, but you’ll end up at beginning of line when you’re transferred.

Things to Say

Use these key trigger words and methods to get through interactive voice phone trees.

  1. “Prospective Member”: Companies are always quick to help new customers, so get to the front of the line by telling this white lie.
  2. “Agent”: Many voice prompts have a backup trigger word that will send you to a real person instead of more prompts.
  3. “Member”: If the company thinks that you’re a member or part of a special group, you just might get premium treatment.
  4. “Transfer”: This magic word can often get you transferred to a real person fast.
  5. “Help”: This backup word is great to use if you want to pretend like you’re stranded in the phone tree.
  6. “Representative”: Another trigger, saying this word can get you transferred to a representative.
  7. “Sales”: Of course, companies want to fast-track anyone who will be buying from them, so use this special word.
  8. “Human”: You can trigger a transfer to a human using this word on many systems.
  9. “Customer Service”: Make it clear that you’re not interested in hearing about your balance, past payments and other administrative tasks with this phrase.
  10. “Advisor”: Use this alternative trigger word when others don’t work.
  11. “Operator”: Unless the company is trying to give you the runaround, this word will get you someone that can help.
  12. The Name of a Competitor: Systems sometimes monitor what you say while you’re on hold. If you say the name of a competitor, a company may become concerned that you’re going to leave it for greener pastures, and someone will snap to help you.

Things to Do

Take these actions to get through fast, whether you’re employing a white lie or working with the system.

  1. Speak Spanish. The Spanish option often has a shorter wait time, and you’ll probably be connected with a bilingual person.
  2. Mumble. If the voice robot can’t understand you, it will be forced to connect you with a live person.
  3. Speak nonsense. Again, if you can’t be understood, you’ll have to talk to a human.
  4. Do nothing. By doing nothing, you can trick the PBX into thinking you have a rotary phone and force it to get you an agent.
  5. Be persistent. Press multiple numbers before the system has a chance to respond and try multiple trigger words.
  6. Speak in a quiet environment. Often, callers have a hard time getting through because the system can’t understand you through background noise. Work with the system by calling from a quiet place.
  7. Select the cancel-service option. If a company thinks they’re going to lose you as a customer, they’ll be quick to try to convince you otherwise.
  8. Swear. Some IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems are programmed to put anyone who is using profanity at the front of the line.
  9. Don’t use your cell phone. Systems sometimes can’t correctly hear the numbers that you press.
  10. Speak loudly. Some systems monitor decibels, and a loud caller may prompt an immediate transfer.
  11. Don’t call the toll-free number. Companies do not want you to wait on hold if they’re paying for it.
  12. Schedule a phone call. Many companies now offer a service where you can request a customer-service call on their Web site, so they call you instead of making you wait on hold.
  13. Call the corporate office. Bother the head honchos to get some attention.
  14. Don’t pay your bill. The company will call you.
  15. Ignore errors. Keep doing what you’re doing, because errors just mean you’re winning the game of confusing the system.
  16. Send an email instead. This won’t get you connected on the phone any faster, but it will save you the trouble of waiting on hold.
  17. Switch to a small company. Avoid phone trees altogether by using a company that is small enough to not need one.
  18. Ask an agent how to get through. When you get a live person on the line, ask them how to get directly to them for the next time you call or if you get disconnected.
  19. Plan your call time wisely. Avoid Monday; if you have the option to call at a very odd hour, do so.

Cool Services

Take advantage of these services that make calling corporations a lot easier.

  1. Jigsaw Data Corp.: Use Jigsaw to call the CEO’s line, and you’re sure to get an answer.
  2. Hard to Find 800 Numbers: Check out this site to find numbers that will put you directly through to a person.
  3. Bringo: This service calls customer-service numbers for you and gets through the phone tree. Then, it calls you once a person is on the line.
  4. Visit for actions you can take for specific companies.
  5. This service is very similar to and offers a directory of what to do to get through at your chosen company.