Monday September 15, 2014

T-Mobile test drive good / bad

Category: 2014,Independence — Ian C. @ 3:43 pm

In Massachusetts we always suffered from poor phone service, and as bad as service was at our home there, it was worse at work. Now that we’ve moved (and it’s time for me to order a new phone!), I’ve wondered if there’s a better choice than AT&T which we’ve had for a long time now.
AT&T actually works quite well at our new home, and their pricing has improved dramatically in the last year, but they are still a bit of a devil company … I was interested in T-Mobile since their pricing is even more competitive and they offer great international service. And then recently T-Mobile launched Test Drive which seemed like a perfect way to find out just how good their service is.

Today, the package arrived – an iPhone 5 already configured and ready to try:
T-Mobile Test Drive

The T-Mobile website claims “good” coverage, so I was hopeful:
T-Mobile coverage

So, open the box (which curiously implies that I’m agreeing to T-Mobile cancellation terms), turn on the phone, and skip all the sign up / configuration stuff. At least I tried to: the phone refused to work unless I either gave it a WiFi connection, or linked it to my computer! I wanted to do neither, since this was a short term test, but I was forced to connect it to my guest WiFi.
As soon as the phone was working and showing T-Mobile service, I forgot the WiFi connection; then a text arrived from T-Mobile with a “how to set up” link, so I clicked it … and this happened:
T-Mobile lack of service

As you see, it’s showing EDGE data, and it’s been like this for maybe five minutes now with no progress. It did at one point show 4G, but didn’t get data to the display, till I walked to a front window of the house – closer to the antenna towers presumably. But seeing as my office is in the back, that’s no good.

I then tried phoning the office; Letizia answered and was pausing a lot when I explained I was just testing the phone service – she explained that she could hardly hear me, I was breaking up a lot.

So that was the end of T-Mobile Test Drive. Did the factory reset on the phone, put it back in the box, and will return it.

I very much like the idea of the Test Drive and I wish that all the companies did something similar – but sadly, T-Mobile remains useless outside of densely populated areas.

Friday September 12, 2014

Another standing desk

Category: 2014 — Ian C. @ 8:12 pm

For those that don’t know from Facebook, back at the end of June I visited the Doctor because I was struggling with severe leg pain that made it basically impossible to sit down, drive, etc! Named as “sciatica” (of course naming something doesn’t help, but presumably makes the Doctor happy), I went through a batch of visits including X-rays, an MRI, and eventually epidural injections and physical therapy (ongoing still).
Advice from the Doctors and Facebook friends included “age”, “weight”, “sitting wrong”, “sitting too much” with suggested treatments also including “chiropractor”, “yoga”, “acupuncture” … but the best treatment for most of the last few months has simply been “avoidance”! We had to cancel our “summer vacation” MINI Takes The States, as there was no way I’d be able to sit and drive 6-8 hours a day for a couple of weeks!

I didn’t sit down any more, not for work, not for relaxation (standing to watch TV is quite a strange thing); I either didn’t drive anywhere, or Margaret took drove, while I laid the passenger seat as close to flat as I could (and often that wasn’t enough either, more than once we just turned round and went home again).
For work, I got a standing desk (and a mat to stand on), which I’ve used since mid July.

Back in late June, I classified my pain level as “12″ out of 10! That’s because my original claim of 7 or 8 was then proved wrong by even worse levels of pain a few days later. Various medications had minimal effect, and the first epidural injection brought pain down to maybe 8/12, still not good.
A second epidural injection in early August brought the pain level down more, and ongoing physical therapy has definitely taught unused muscles to work again and is supposed to have also helped with pain reduction. However it’s basically impossible to figure out what causes less or more pain – you might do what appears to be the same thing one day to the next, but have zero pain one day, and too much pain another day!

But as August progressed, it’s clear that I’m making progress. Now, mid September nearly three months since it all started, there are times when I have no pain at all – or maybe just a slight tingling which I can eliminate just by moving. When I wake in the morning, my discomfort level is generally about 3, but a morning walk helps reduce that level, and standing to work all day doesn’t make it any worse.
I drive myself to/from PT now (25 minutes each way), sometimes drive with no increase in pain; I can even sit down for as long as an hour or two to watch TV, if I’m careful how I sit.

So I wonder if I’d be able to sit to work, sometimes at least. The standing desk I got basically requires disassembly to adjust it’s height, and the alternative of repeatedly moving the computer setup from high to low desk, and back, is not a practical solution. Thus, I ordered a new “crank adjustable height” desk this week; it arrived today and I assembled it this afternoon:
Standing desk number two

This desk is longer than my first one, so a better setup, and with about thirty seconds of turning a crank, it can be lowered (or raised again):
Standing desk, lowered

I’m hopeful that I will continue to improve, and this desk will allow me to experiment with sitting down at work, at least some of the time; my goal right now is to be able to fly to Texas in late October, for Formula One, without suffering too much …

Thursday September 11, 2014

Lake Garda, Italy

Category: 2014,Vacation — Ian C. @ 2:08 pm

Margaret has headed off to Europe for a few weeks, meeting up with her Mother and her Sister (Kate) – and all three have now headed off to Italy, staying near Lake Garda. And this is the view from their hotel!
Lake Garda view

Meanwhile I’m home, working and looking after Chloe – and right now it’s pouring with rain, quite different weather to what the girls are enjoying!