67+ Years Pondering and Pontificating

What do you get after all these years have passed by, and you start looking back ? For me, lots of great memories, an amazing wife, a quad of great kids, a baker's dozen of grandkids, and several tons of experience. Of course, it also brings some entrenched opinions, thoughtful ideas, and perhaps some insight that will help others on their journey through life. Hopefully the posts on these pages will be useful and interesting.

Why Not A Windows Phone ?

thIn the next 4 months, over 450,000,000 smartphones will be sold throughout the world.  That’s quite a market, yet most people will only be deciding between two brands, Samsung and Apple.  Those are what their friends use, so they must be the only option.  With the reveal yesterday of the new iPhone 6 models, and last week announcements about new Samsung products, the future looks profitable for both companies.  For those of us who tend to be non-conformists, dare we ask “Is that all there is?”

My history with cell technology started in 1986 when portability was attained by carrying the phone in a backpack, with its external antenna and a corded handset.  Since then I’ve had a variety of devices, but in recent years I settled on the lesser known Windows  Phone !  I will admit, in the early days, Windows and phones just didn’t mix.  However, with the advent of WinPhone 7, 8, and now 8.1, I’ve enjoyed a very satisfying smart device that works flawlessly, competes well on the features,  and is easy to use.

I carry a Nokia Lumia Icon, running the latest operating system.  It has an amazing 20 megapixel camera, plus does HD video recording, and has lots of nice editing applications provided for free.  With 13 grandkids, pictures are a must.  When it comes to texting, no problem, and voice calls are clear and solid. 

So what makes it stand out ?  I’m big on contacts.  Frankly, I have a lot of them.  I know the other companies will let you store contacts, but it’s pretty plain vanilla in how they display.  Well, with my Icon, the first thing I see is all of the contact info others see on their devices.  Wait.  Slide the screen left and I have my connect page.  So, if my contact is on Facebook, Twitter, or others, it shows up on that screen.  Slide left again and I hit the What’s new page, with their recent posts on social media.  One more slide and I see my recent communications with them.  Do I have to add all of this info in ?   NOPE !  It all populates automatically.

On my main people page I can look up contacts, or I can slide  left and see What’s New, which are social media posts.  You guessed it, all automatically uploaded based on my memberships ( ie. Facebook ).  Slide left again, and I can create chat rooms, or groups to communicate with quickly ( thus not having to set up a group of names for each text message ).  I don’t have time to call all my friends, but it sure is nice to keep current, or check out recent events in their lives before connecting. 

I hear a lot of people complain that WinPhones don’t have as many apps as the two big guys.  That is true.  However, that doesn’t mean areas are left uncovered.  Most people only use 10 to 15 applications on their phone.  Usually they want communications, social media, camera with apps, and perhaps banking.  The Windows Phone has all those bases covered.  Want to watch videos ?  Covered.  Need radio ? Covered.  News ? Covered.  Maps ?  Dining reservations ?  Locating stores ? Music?   All covered.  I even get my Disneyland wait times!

So what does Windows Phone have that the other guys don’t ?  Cortana !  Who is that lady ?  She knows so much, and does so much.  She is also very friendly with my apps.  So, I press a button on the face of my phone and she asks how she can help me.  I say “Are there Italian restaurants around here?” and she shows me a list.  Press on any of them for directions, menus, rankings from Yelp, or even reservations.  It’s all good.  Of course I can tell her to add things to my calendar, send text messages to someone, make a call, set reminders, and even give me directions.  Sure, you can do this on other phones, but do you have a personal assistant that can do all of these things for you?  You can use a bluetooth headset to awake Cortana, and give her instructions.  She also plays friendly with the voice activation system on my Ford Fusion so I’m always hands free.  In fact, when a text comes in, she reads it to me in the car and allows me to dictate a reply.

I realize the sales are not great ( yet ) on Win Phone, but that is not the fault of Microsoft, or Nokia.  I’ve witnessed enough to put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the cell phone carriers and tech press.  They simply don’t know the product, and the sales people will push what they like, even if it’s not right for you.  The press focuses on their techie desires, and often write without ever spending time with a Win Phone.  So, if you are “in the market” and considering a new phone, head on down to a Microsoft store where you will get plenty of hands on time with one of these devices ( and maybe some refreshments ).  You will find,honest, friendly, salespeople who will not be at all pushy or negative.  Do your research because this might just be the phone of your dreams.

Thus, all of this leads to one question:  “Why not a windows phone?”  It is worth considering.

For more info, check out:     Nokia Lumia website       Windows Phone website

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The Sales Person Is Always Right

Customer: “I’m looking for a light blue sundress for my trip to the Caribbean”
Salesperson:  “We have this awesome cardigan sweater.”
Customer: “It’s too hot for that and I need a dress.  How about that one?  It looks nice”
Salesperson: “You don’t want that.  It’s a mess.  You want this sweater!”

When you go shopping for a “solution” to a pending problem, do you find yourself enduring this type of conversation with the person who is supposed to assist you ?  Sadly, so many stores now focus on pushing what they have, completely ignoring what you need.

I’ve seen this practice particularly prevalent in technology sales.  For example, you go to the store for your wireless carrier, seeking a new phone.  You know what features you want, and those you would never use.  The clerk never takes the time to ask what you want because they have the device in mind which brings a bonus to their paycheck.  In fact, if you’ve done your homework, read the reviews, evaluated the features, and have a specific phone in mind, be prepared for them to tell you why you don’t want that one, but you should buy their “better” model.

Before you go out to buy, here are some guidelines that will help you come home with the right device, and without the angst of making a pushed purchase.  Remember, you will likely have this device for the next two, or more, years, so use caution.

Know your needs

If you are looking for a phone, computer, or tablet, be sure to first make a written list of how you will use the device.  What is important?  What will you not use?  Think this out carefully.  If you are replacing a device, be sure to list the features you wish you had now.  This investment is actually a tool to help you, not some glitzy toy with features you will never use.

Research what is available

There are ample articles available on what devices do, how they work, and who has quality products.  Do you research and read the reviews of various available products.  For example, if you want a phone, look at the models the carrier provides.  Read the feature list, and note the model numbers of those that appeal.  Then do a web search on those model numbers and read the various articles.  Use independent resources, and check both the author, and reader, viewpoints.

Visit the store, but do not buy

Visit your vendor and look at the models of interest.  Get a feel for them.  Consider size, weight, display resolution, and how they feel in your hands.  Take time to try the keyboards.  However, on your first visit, DO NOT BUY !  Go home and sleep on the info and impressions you have obtained.

Go to the store when you know exactly what you want

After you completed all of the research, checked out the devices in person, you can decide to either wait, or move ahead with a purchase.  If you decide to buy an item, do not let a salesperson talk you into something else.  If they start badmouthing a product, you might decide to wait, and do further research.  Most often, however, they are simply steering you to the product the boss sees overstocked in inventory, and wants to get out the door, or the manufacturer is offering a “spiff”.  Stick to your guns.  In fact, if the salesperson is pushy, it’s time to depart the store and take your business elsewhere.

You may be wondering why I wrote this.  I’ve been talking with people recently who have been encountering high pressure sales techniques to push them toward devices other than what they wanted.  Some has been very aggressive, and not once has the sales person cared at all about what the client needed.  This old geezer doesn’t take kindly to such pushy behavior, and I don’t think you should either.  I hope you will take a stand and make every technology investment that you make a satisfying experience.

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