How to improve on AT&T revenge…


A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about a way to get free SMS text messaging on your phone using Google Voice, Gmail and Yahoo mail. Fortunately, last week Google updated their sync capabilities to add push, so we can now do away with the Yahoo part and have Gmail push directly to the phone, and reply directly in Gmail to the received SMS messages. It requires that your Gmail be setup as an Exchange account on your iPhone however. Here are the steps:

1. Follow the instructions in my last post to setup Google Voice and forward SMS to your Gmail account in the settings, but do NOT set up Gmail or Yahoo mail account on your iphone. If you do already have them setup and don’t use them for something else, feel free to delete them.

2. Go to Google Sync page and follow the instructions for setting up your Google account as an Exchange account.

3. Voila. SMS messages will be pushed to your phone via Google sync, and you will be able to hit reply and compose free SMS back to the sender via your Gmail account. An even more perfect way to have free sms and avoid the ridiculous AT&T rates.

The other great thing about Google Sync is that it also gives you the ability to sync your contacts and calendar for free (largely doing away with the need to pay 100 bucks a year for a mobile me account).

How to get back at AT&T, just a little


Price gouging offends common decency. We see examples of it everywhere, from banking ATM and transfer fees, to ridiculous “exchange rate” fees when out of the country, to late fees and rate changes on credit cards. But one of my biggest gouging pet peeves involves the crazy prices AT&T (among others) charge for SMS services. (To get an idea of how ridiculous, check out this excellent article on the subject.)

Well, today, thanks to Google Voice, Yahoo mail, and a little tinkering, I now have a decent replacement working on my iPhone. For free. Yes, for free. Here is what you need to do:

1. Set up a Google Voice account.

2. Make sure SMS forwarding is on from your Google Voice to your Gmail account (under Settings – Voicemail & SMS)

3. Set up a Yahoo mail account, and configure your iPhone to connect to it. (the reason this is necessary is that Yahoo mail is the only one that will push notifications to the iPhone, the others need to be checked manually or at intervals)

4. Go to your gmail account, and (under Settings – Filters) set up a filter for any message from “*” to forward to your Yahoo account.

Et Voila! you now get SMS notifications on your iPhone, for free. There is only one drawback, and it is minor (for me, at least). To respond to an SMS, you will need to do so from your Gmail account (also set up on my iPhone) as the “from” address will not work for a reply from Yahoo’s servers.

On a side note, if AT&T were to decide to charge something reasonable for unlimited SMS (like 5 bucks a month even) I would happily pay it. But their $20 a month fees are outrageous. They only do this because iPhone users are trapped on their shitty network.

Why I returned my iPhone


1. The network, which should be fantastic in a place like NYC, sucks very badly. Not only did I have the switching problems that many others suffered, often times it didn’t matter if I was on EDGE or 3G. With full bars showing, I often couldn’t get web pages to download AT ALL, or they would take forever. Friends of mine in the exact same place and time with other brands of cellphone or first gen iPhones could get on and download easily.

2. GPS has serious problems in a place like NYC.

3. When I bought the iPhone, I assumed it would be able to be unlocked soon (as the first gen was), but that still has not happened. Since I will be traveling in several other countries for long periods in the next few months, I didn’t feel like paying ATT’s outrageous roaming charges. If I can’t pop a new SIM in wherever I go, that is a problem.

4. Constant denials from Apple and ATT about problems are not good customer service. On the other hand, my experience at the Apple Store (West 14th street) when returning my phone was exemplary. They were very helpful and kind and did not hassle me about my return.

I really loved the iPhone when it was working properly, but that was all too rare (at least in NYC. It seemed much better in the Midwest with both GPS and Internet access.) When I return to the US at the end of the year, I will look into getting another. Perhaps the problems will be fixed by then.

The Google tells us to jump off a bridge


On the way back from dinner with my parents and their friends, I was playing around with the gps/google maps combo of my new iPhone (yeah, it is buggy but super cool. I’m keeping it after all). I decided to look up directions and see which way it would tell us to get home from where we were on the north side of town. It was doing fairly ok until it made a less than optimal suggestion for a turn off the highway.

As you may have surmised by looking at the photo, there is no exit at this place. Google just told us to careen through the barrier, off an overpass, and land on the street below.

Cookies and sweat and shiny objects


Not much to report from the past few days, but here is a short list:

– Hung out with my friends Blake and Danny while Blake prepared his cookie entries to be judged for the state fair. I found the entire process fascinating/funny and could not stop giggling about it. I kept thinking about that sketch from Little Britain.

– Went out for drinks with my super cool niece Sarah last night.

– Set up a new Skype phone and assembled two Ikea tables and a bed frame over at my brother Mike’s new place, getting totally drenched in sweat in the process.

– Went to the Apple Store with my brother David and purchased a new iPhone on a whim, proving that I am not yet entirely free from the shackles of consumerism. I am less than impressed with its performance and stability and may return it however.

– Booked my tickets for NYC on the 5th. Flying in to White Plains and will attempt to navigate mta into the city.

All in all pretty dull, n’est-ce pas?