Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Return of The Beast

I'm writing this post by dictating it into my new iPhone 4S. They say all good things come to an end. In this case it was just too much to not have an iPhone.

While this may be one of my shortest lived blogs I think the experience was definitely worthwhile. The three months or so that I spent without an iPhone taught me a lot about my own self and my usage of technology.

The fact that I'm able to speak into my phone and have the words put onto the blog is quite amazing. Siri has been quite amazing. I'm spending less with my new company.

While my will to keep going without an iPhone was strong I knew ultimately, even starting out, that I would go back to get an iPhone at some point.

The major take away for me from having not used an iPhone is that I tended to spend a lot of time reading, thinking, and in general using my brain.

I've had my new iPhone 4S for probably about one month. In that time I've gone back to many of my old habits such as checking my Facebook and Twitter often. I haven't been reading as much as I did before and I haven't a really been coming up with as many new ideas.

All in all I don't know if I'm better off now than when I didn't have an iPhone but it sure feels like I'm able to breathe a lot easier having my iPhone back and my mobile data back.

Whether this means that my experiment was a failure or not remains to be seen. I'm spending about $20 less than I was before.

So this is me signing off for now on this blog. I may write in it from time to time the future if I have thoughts on the subject. If you've read this thanks for reading and see you around. I'm off to play with my phone some more.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Data Cometh

So today marks just around 3 months since I canceled my AT&T iPhone service. It has been a very interesting experience so far.

Up until a few days ago I had no access at all. I had survived by finding as utilizing free wifi hotspots in (or just outside) coffee shops, bookstores and libraries. When I was on the road or at a restaurant I spent most of the time on my phone reading ebooks on the Kindle app. That I could do without needing wireless data.

I read a lot. I actually finished a decent number of books reading them on my phone or in physical paperback. The time I had previously used to twitter away time on my phone apps was now going towards reading.

After a few months I really didn't miss not having wireless data absolutely everywhere. I planned to be somewhere with wifi if I thought I would need it.

Just a few day ago however I decided to purchase a T-Mobile mobile wifi hotspot. I got it on sale at Best Buy for $80 (reg. $130). I use their prepaid 1GB of data for 30 days for $30 plan.

1GB may not seem like a lot but I have become an absolute data miser. Having to get all your info from various physical wifi hotspots dotted around the city gets you used to usin data sparingly.

If/when I do turn on my mobile wifi hotspot it is only for the exact time I need the data connection and it gets turned off after I'm done. I also try to pre-load as much work as I can in other apps before turning the information over to the network connected app.

As an example I am currently writing this post in the Doc2 app and will then cut and paste it into the blogger.com app when I'm ready to upload it.

I was also able to make free phone calls via the TalkaTone app (uses free Gogle Voice service) on my iPhone 3GS through wifi. While I'm not sure of te data usage while VoIP'ing if it isn't horrendous that right there could cut down on the number f outbound calls I'd need to be making on my $0.10/min voiceT-Mobile prepaid phone service.

So right now assuming I stay within my already purchased voice minutes my total monthly bill for talk, unlimited text and 1GB of mobile data is $45. $15 for the unlimited text and $30 for 1GB of mobile data.

That us less than half of what I was paying for my old AT&T iPhone plan.

The disadvantage is the data isn't unlimited and requires a bit of planning and a couple of minutes to turn on the mobile hotspot. I still need my $0.10/ minuter prepaid talk to get traditional phone calls from place like work etc. Also it is slightly inconvenient to have to carry three devices (1st gen iPhone, iPhone 3GS and mobile hotspot) rather than one. It doesn't really bother me much as all three do still fit fairly well in my front pocket.

The advantages are that I can connect multiple devices to my hotspot including my laptop, both of my iPhones and my iPad if I ever needed. Granted I dont often need mobile data on my laptop or iPad but if I do for some reason (long road trip or working from a resteraunt I have it. Simply turning oon the mobile hotspot functionality on the new iPhones costs $30/month.

My wife left her new iPhone 4S in the car this morning and I couldn't help myself from talking to Siri. That is such a cool feature. If anything would make me say "Stuff it!" to my current digital austerity and run back into the cold arms of another two year contract it would probably be Siri.

That said I don't think I'll be jumping back in right away. I'm kind of enjoying the changes to my life that cutting the mobile data umbilical cord has brought I to my life (library ebooks, paperbacks and living "off the grid" more often than not).

I have 30 days to decide if I like the hotspot and how it works enough to keep it. If not I can return it for a refund. Now I'm going to fire up my mobile wifi hotspot and post this.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Quick Recap

I wrote the following as a response to a reddit questions about whether anyone had cut the chord on their cell phone plan.

I recently torched my ATT iPhone contract. I was out of contract. I transferred my cell number to a cheap ($20) T Mobile pre-paid phone and popped the sim in an old T Mobile Motorola Pebl.

I went with the $15/month unlimited text and $0.10/ minute talk plan. I use the Pebl for talk and text. My iPhone 3GS became my glorified iPod Touch.

Funny thing is I still use my iPhone pretty much the same way I did before at home and work where I have wifi (also at Starbucks, Barnes and Noble and at the library).

The best find I made was the iPhone app Talkatone. It connects to your Google Voice account and allows you to dial calls for free where ever you have a wifi signal (some set up in your Google Voice settings required.)

Sure testing in the Pebl is cumbersome compared to the iPhone but where as I was paying $95/month before I am paying $15/month plus a few bucks/month to top up my voice minutes for things like work calling etc.

My original plan was to work this set up for 6-12 months to save up for an iPhone 4S but I am not missing this much as I thought I would without a mobile data plan.

I may still get a new iPhone but living so cheap will make hefting on an expensive 2 year contract look less and less attractive.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sipping Sweet WiFi at Chipotle

I was supposed to start my first day of work at GameStop tonight. They were missing some paperwork and so I have been sitting in Chipotle for the last 2O minutes waiting for them to call me after someone brings them the right paperwork.

I've been spending my time browsing reddit. I sure do love that site. It always has the lost random but intestine content.

I don't know if it is because the users are like me or if the best stuff gets pushed to the front page but what ever it is it continues to delighted day after day week after week year after year.

I've also been spending my spare time writing on my iPhone. I guess it has to do with my lack of a cellular data plan.

I sad I was sitting at Chipotle and browsing reddit. The reason I can do this is because I am sitting close enough to the Starbucks to get their free wifi signal.

I live free wifi. I have found that with the exception of using my iPhone in the car the majority of time I would normally use my iPhone data I am actually in a wifi hotspot.

Whether I am at home, at work or near a free public wifi hotspot like a library, Barnes and Noble or Starbucks I always seem to be able to get a signal when I need one.

It makes me wonder if I will ever go back to subscribing to a 2-year contract for an iPhone.

My "No Service" iPhone 3GS may do be just fine as essentially an iPod Touch with VOIP functionality where ever I get a wifi signal.

In essence my cell phone becomes my backup device when I am outside a wifi area.

As time goes in I am finding that I may never go back to paying for an iPhone data plan and a two year contract.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

iPhone is a luxury not a necessity.

Having an iPhone is a (or rather having a cellular data plan in an iPhone) is a luxury and not a necessity.

In the almost one month since I go rid of my cellular data plan for my iPhone guess what. The world hasn't stopped tuning. The heavens haven't fallen from and sky. The world hasn't ended. I haven't died. More

I'm Not Dead Yet

Honestly for the most part things have been just fine. Sure there have been times when I wish I had had cellular data. Doing things like having gps maps or looking up a near by business address would have been nice.

There are ways to get around these short comings. Printing driving directions ahead of a trip as well as using Google SMS search for addresses have pretty much solved those issues.

We Crave Distraction

When I think back in the types of things I user cellular data for on my iPhone the seem to break down into two main categories: utilities and distractions.

Utilities include things like GPS/maps, movie times, address search and so forth. These are things that make out lives easier because we can look this kind of information up on the fly.

Distractions are thing Like checking our Facebook status, reading news, and reading/posting on twitter. These are the little activities that we use to fill in the small gaps of time thy we fin in our day. Waiting in line. Riding in a car.

The Real Motivator

The second category us the one that I have seen the largest drop in since removing cellular data. It is also the category I was initially most worried about losing. If I'm honest it is probably the real reason I waited so long to stop paying do much for cellular data.

Thinking back I was telling myself that losing the utility functions of cellular data was the reason I didn't want to lose it. What I subconsciously isn't want to lose was the ability to be distracted at any place at any time.

What is interesting to note is that I have adapted very well to not being able to be distracted at a moments notice by twitter updates or Facebook notifications. I've replaced those with soon things offline most noticeably reading books.

Good Distractions

I haven't spoken much about this in the post yet but I still carry my iPhone alongside my cell phone. It may not have data talk or text but I still have access to all my apps.

The one that has been getting the most renewed use is the Kindle app for reading books. I've signed up with my local library and have been doing their 14 day checkouts of Kindle ebooks.

The combined freeing up of my "distraction time" (waiting for work after dropping my wife off in the mornings or sitting down eating my lunch) along with the pressure of needing to read the book in 14 days has helped me actually finish two books already.

As someone who is in the (bad) habit of buying books and only reading 10% before stopping the subtle goading that a library return date has had on my reading has been a revelation.

Conclusion

So all in all I can honestly say that my life hasn't become terribly boring I unbearable since I stopped the cellular data plan in my iPhone. It may have actually improved in some ways.

We lived for years without "always on" cellular data and it is perfectly possible to live without it today. We just has to remain open and be creative.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Day 2 - What I'm using instead.

Toady I wanted to go over what I chose to use instead of a $94/month AT&T iPhone plan.

As funny as it may sound it wasn't easy to decide on which service to replace my expired AT&T contract with. I knew a few things for sure.

No Contract 

I knew that there was a chance that within 6-12 months I was going to be moving back onto a traditional 2-year contract plan and that meant I didn't want any sort of contract at all. This meant that I was looking exclusively at what we call "pre-paid" service.

the thing I didn't know at the time was that pre-paid cell phone service comes in two major flavors: "no contract" and "pay-as-you-go". No contract is very similar to traditional cell phone services in that you pay a set amount and get a certain service for one month.

This is essentially for people who want the benefits of traditional cell phone service but don't want to be locked into a 2-year contract. Pricing for these plans seemed to average around $35-50/month. An improvement from my current $94/month. Read more after the jump.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Welcome to My Life Without iPhone.

So today is the first day since I cancelled my AT&T service for my iPhone.

I've owned an iPhone since it was first introduced in 2007. I owned the original iPhone and later the iPhone 3GS.

I started this blog to record my experience living life without an iPhone. The reasons for cancelling my iPhone was that the $94 dollars I was paying AT&T each month had just gotten too onerous. My wife and I were both paying $94/month and as money gets tighter you reach a point where you stop and ask yourself: Do I really need to keep spending $188 just so that I can have the (albeit sizable) convenience of an iPhone?

That is the question I will be exploring as my adventure continues. At this time I'm planning to wait 6-12 months before getting another iPhone. Yes I believe I will get another iPhone. Honestly I love the iPhone. I love it a lot. It has been my constant companion for almost 5 years. Read more after the jump.