Sonamba Senior Monitoring Device Is Technologically Advanced

‘I’m falling and I can’t get it’, alerted us to the fact that seniors living alone needed some type of monitoring device for their home. Life Alert with their commercial advertising on TV, is the most common type of protection that most of us are familiar with. But now there is Sonamba which is technologically advanced and feature rich monitoring device that provides many more features including wireless connectivity.

According to the Sonamba web site the unit can:

Sonamba monitors motion and sound activity, and compares current activity with historic activity levels. Based on this comparison, Sonamba sends out periodic “all is well” or “attention needed” alerts to caregivers and support circle members cellphones.

So if the person falls, is unconscience or otherwise incapacitated, some one on the care giving list can immediately be notified.

So how much does the unit cost?

Q: Can I really afford this kind of 24-hour security?

A: This remarkable system is highly affordable. Sonamba offers a range of pricing options. You can pay as little as $29.99 activation fee to get started (based on a two-year subscription) with monthly payments as low as $39.00- $69.00. Note: Caregivers will incur cell phone and text messaging charges, payable to the caregivers’ cell phone provider.

The Sonamba unit itself sells for $549.99 and can be ordered directly from the company.

With a large number of baby boomers hitting old age, they are used of having technology surrounding them. There is also the slim possibility that Medicare could eventually help pay for the unit. This would make the Sonamba even more attractive to seniors.

What do you think about this unit? Is it worth the cost?

Comments welcome.

Source – Sonamba

Best Buy To Offer Buy Back Program – Will It Work?

Best Buy is in the process of starting a Buy Back program which is set to start on January 5, 2011, The program will cover the purchaser who buys a laptop computer, tablet computer, netbook computer, cell phone or HDTV. The plan is fairly simple. When the customer returns a purchase they will receive an amount determined by how long they have owned the device. According to one article the price is determined by the original MSRP of the device.

Here are the Buy Back program rates. If you buy a laptop, netbook, tablet or cell phone, you will get a gift card for up to 50% of the MSRP in the first six months and 20% of the MSRP during months 18-24. Did I mention that Best Buy charges an up front fee of just $59.95 to participate in the Buy Back program? Did I also mention that if you don’t bring back the device during the buy back period, they get to keep the $59.95?

Another of the special features included in the Buy Back program is the small print that items must be in ‘good condition’. Which makes me wonder. Who decides what ‘good condition’ really is?

Though I am sure that Best Buy could change the conditions governing their Buy Back program, it would appear to an outside observer, that this type of program may not be for everyone. I know that after reading the fine print, I seriously doubt that I would choose to participate. But that is just me,

How about you? Do you see any benefits to this type of Buy Back program?

Comments welcome.

Source – Technologizer

Textaurant – Wait Online And Not In Line At Your Favorite Restaurant

One of the things that I do not like is to wait in line at a restaurant. I have previously mentioned that the Olive Garden is a thorn in my side, since where I live we have to wait in line even when tables are vacant. Grrrr…… But now there is a new application called Textaurant. Instead of having to carry a pager you can receive a notification on your cell phone. This allows you the freedom to do other things without the annoyance of waiting in line.

According to their web site, Texturant will offer:

You’ve already got a device that buzzes in your pocket – why do you need one from the restaurant? Restaurants that use Textaurant are not only ahead of the curve, but they also care about their patrons’ time – and health.

Right now, you have to walk into a restaurant or call them to find out the wait time and get on the list. This wastes your time, especially if there’s a long wait. With Textaurant, you can see wait times online or on your mobile device, choose a location, and get in the queue remotely – from wherever you are.

Wait where you want, do what you want, and get a free alert before your table is ready.

We will never share your information with businesses. Period.

Exclusive discounts and freebies (only if you want them).

This idea is so simple it makes one wonder why with all of the apps available, no one has done this before? Though this is specifically designed for restaurants, one could imagine it could be used by other businesses. My first thought was doctor offices. This is another thorn in my side. If I have an appointment and I am still sitting in the lobby for over an hour, I leave. But if I was able to do other chores while waiting to see the doc, I think it would be a benefit to me and to the doctors staff.

What do you think? Is this an app you would like to use? I know I would.

Comments welcome.

Source – Textaurant

Distracted Drivers Including Cell Phone Users Kill 5,000 People A Year. Does Anyone Care?

Several weeks ago I was pulling out from a gas station when I observed this lovely sight. A female was piloting a large SUV jerking the wheel back and forth, trying to pull into the station. What I found novel about her driving was that she had a cell phone up to her ear, a cigarette dangling from her mouth, and at the same time was trying to navigate her Yukon into the gas station. What a horse’s ass this lady was. Common sense alone should have told her she should have taken both hands off the steering wheel, one to hold her cell phone and one to smoke her cigarette and she could steer with her knees!

Here is an interesting article that I just read that I wanted to share:

Distracted driving – including the use of a cell phone behind the wheel – resulted in 5,474 deaths in the U.S. last year, the Transportation Department announced Monday.

But while those numbers are similar to the stats seen in 2008, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned that the number could be much higher since police in many states do not currently check to see if distraction was a factor in an accident. Drivers most likely to be distracted, meanwhile, are those under 20.

“Studies show that when a driver looks away from the road to send an e-mail or text message, he or she is concentrating on something other than the road for 4.6 of every six seconds,” LaHood continued. “At 55 miles per hour, that is like driving the length of a football field while blindfolded.”

Though the percentage did not jump from 2008 to 2009, the proportion of fatalities associated with distracted drivers has increased 10 percent since 2005. Overall, traffic fatalities are also at their lowest levels since 1950.

Broken down by age, drivers under 20 are most likely to be distracted. Of the 3,967 drivers under 20 involved in fatal crashes last year, 619 – or 16 percent – were distracted. Of that 16 percent, 138 of those crashes involved cell phones.

At 24 percent, the 30 to 39 age group had the most incidents of fatal accidents involving a cell phone, but other age groups were not far off. Those ages 20 to 29 were at 21 percent, while those 40 to 59 were at 20 percent.

Distracted drivers are a pet peeve of mine and I personally believe that the time has come to outlaw all cell phone use while driving, even hands free. Our brains do not multi-task well behind the wheel of a car while trying to talk on the phone at the same time. I find it hard to believe that this type of distraction continues when we all know what the results could be.

So my question is this. Does anyone care?

Comments welcome.

Source – PC World

PS Be patient for comment approval. I’ll be flying home today after a lovely week’s vacation.

The Necessities Of Life Do Not Include A TV Or Landline Telephone – Or Do They?

The Pew Research Center has an interesting article in which they evaluate some of the luxuries of life and what Americans feel are necessities. What is surprising is how some of our technology needs have faded in their priority including television and landline telephones. So are these traditional ‘needed’ devices really losing their ground as necessities of life?

According to the Pew Research Center they state the following:

After occupying center stage in the American household for much of the 20th century, two of the grand old luminaries of consumer technology — the television set and the landline telephone — are suffering from a sharp decline in public perception that they are necessities of life.

Just 42% of Americans say they consider the television set to be a necessity, according to a new nationwide survey from the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project. Last year, this figure was 52%. In 2006, it was 64%.

The drop-off has been less severe for the landline telephone: Some 62% of Americans say it’s a necessity of life, down from 68% last year.

From 1996 through 2006 — a period of economic expansion and heavy consumer spending — a rising share of Americans saw more items on the list as necessities rather than luxuries. Since 2006 — as the housing bubble burst, the economy sank into a deep recession and consumer spending throttled down — the trend has moved the opposite way. A rising share now sees more everyday items as luxuries than necessities.

I do see the landline as a dying necessity. As many of you know, I recently dumped mine and went to cell phones. So far this has worked extremely well for my wife and I. But I recently spoke with a neighbor, who still has a landline plus cell phones, and his opinion was he felt that a landline for him was still a necessity. He stated he felt more comfortable having a landline available to his older children while he and his wife were away.

It’s Not Just the Economy

But the economy isn’t the only factor driving these numbers. For several items on the list — the television set and the landline phone are prime examples — innovations in technology also seem to be playing a role.

Indeed, the dichotomy posed by the question “luxury or necessity” may itself be something of a relic. For some items, a more appropriate question in 2010 may be whether consumers consider these venerable appliances to be “necessary” or “superfluous.”

In the case of the landline phone, a rising thumbs-down verdict comes not just from the survey but also from the marketplace. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data, just 74% of U.S. households now have a landline phone.1 This is down from a peak of 97% in 2001.2

During this same time period, use of cell phones has skyrocketed. Fully 82% of adults now use cell phones, up from 53% in 2000. There are now more cell phones in the U.S. than landline phones. And — as if to add insult to injury — today’s young adults are spending less time talking on their cell phones and more time texting.3

If someone would have told me six months ago, that I would be texting more than calling, I would call them nuts. Yet this is exactly what I have been doing. Texting I have found is a great way to stay in contact, with short messages, that can say something as simple as ‘I love you’. I have also found that our kids are more responsive to texts than to actual calls. Don’t get me wrong. I still make phone calls to family and friends, but I must admit, I do text more.

But age also has an influence on who are keeping their landline and who are not:


Our Schizophrenic Relationship with the Television Set

The television set presents a more confusing picture. Even as fewer Americans say they consider the TV set to be a necessity of life, more Americans than ever are stocking up on them. In 2009, the average American home had more television sets than people — 2.86, according to a Nielsen report.4 In 2000, this figure was 2.43; in 1990, it was 2.0; and in 1975, it was 1.57.

Why the disconnect between attitudes and behaviors? It’s hard to know for sure. But it may be that, unlike the landline phone, the TV set hasn’t had to deal with competition from a newfangled gadget that can fully replace all of its functions.

Yes, it’s true that in the digital era, consumers know they can watch a lot of television programming on their computers or smart phones — and this knowledge is no doubt one of the reasons fewer people now say they think of a TV set as a necessity. But if a person wants real-time access to the wide spectrum of entertainment, sports and news programming available on television, there’s still nothing (at least not yet) that can compete with the television set itself.

In addition to the age factor, income also plays a part. No surprise here that those who make more are more likely to own cell phones.

So what do you think? Are devices like landlines and televisions not a necessity in your life?

Comments welcome.

Source – Pew Research Center

Facebook Scam – Charges You $5 A Week On Your Cell Phone

Sophos Security is warning Facebook users about a scam in which you will be charged $5 a week on your cell phone account without your knowledge.   The click jacking worm tricks users into sharing their information without the user being aware what is being done. The scammers use the following screen to trick the user:

Once the user clicks on the ‘next’ button the script is activated without the user suspecting anything is wrong. Behind the scenes is a screen in which you ask to take a survey. But it is this agreement that many will not read that tricks the user:

“The Awesome Test for asking questions and getting answers from our human-powered response team for unlimited answers. This is an auto renewing subscription service that will continue until canceled. To cancel the service at anytime Text STOP to short code. Available to users over 18 for $5/Week charged on your wireless account or deducted from your prepaid balance. Unlimited answers to questions. For support: text HELP or call 800-916-3070. Message and data rates may apply. Your phone must have text messaging capability. You must be the owner of this device or have permission from the owner. By signing up for this service and entering your personal PIN Code delivered to the cell phone number supplied by you on this website, you acknowledge that you are agreeing to the full Terms of Use. Click here for full Terms & Conditions. For Privacy Policy Click here.”

Once you agree to the terms and provide your cell number, the $5 a week is added to your cell phone charges. If you fall victim to this scam, Sophos recommends you remove the item from your profile.

Be careful out there. The crooks never sleep.

Comments welcome.

Source – SophosLabs

Walmart To Expand Straight Talk Phone Offerings To Include AT&T

Walmart may have stumbled upon a gold mine when it first introduced Straight Talk cell phone service via the Verizon network. Straight Talk cell service has become more popular as consumers opt out of the two year contract agreements and services which most consumers never use. Walmart has added 896,000 new users to the Verizon network and now plans to expand the Straight Talk services to include cell phones from AT&T.

In a recent news article from the WSJ it also stated the following:

AT&T confirmed that phones compatible with its network will be available to Straight Talk, which is a prepaid service exclusive to Wal-Mart. Previously, phones using the service could only run on Verizon Wireless’s network. BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk first reported the use of AT&T-compatible phones on Straight Talk.

I became a Straight Talk convert about a month ago. I purchased two Samsung R355C phones from Walmart which came with a $30 a month prepaid card for the Straight Talk network. For $30 a month you get 1,000 minutes of talk time, 1,000 text messages and 30MB of data service for email and surfing the Internet. If a user needs more services Straight Talk offers a $45 a month prepaid card which offers unlimited talk time, texting and Internet access.

By Walmart adding the AT&T network to the Straight Talk service, this will provide service for those who may not be able to access Verizon.

Comments welcome.

Source – WSJ

Wireless Industry Sues San Francisco – Protests Radiation Disclosure Law

Wireless Industry Protests Radiation Disclosure Law – States Law Is Misleading Consumers.

San Francisco is being challenged by the wireless industry [CITA] concerning the cities new law which requires radiation warnings for all cell phones. The wireless people believe that the law will mislead consumers into thinking that one phone may be safer than another. In addition the law does not address if cell phones are a hazard or not. There has been no scientific evidence to positively conclude that using a cell phone causes any type of health risks. In addition a recent article also states that:

According to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, specific absorption rate, or SAR, is “a way of measuring the quantity of radio frequency (RF) energy that is absorbed by the body.” For a phone to pass FCC certification and be sold in the United States, its maximum SAR level must be less than 1.6 watts per kilogram. In Europe, the level is capped at 2 watts per kilogram while Canada allows a maximum of 1.6 watts per kilogram.

My question to you is this. Should we consumers be concerned with the amount of radiation our cell phones give off?

Comments welcome.

Over at CNet they have provide a list of phone ratings for the SAR levels to help you determine just how much radiation is coming from your cell phone.

UTStarcom/PCD| Kyocera | LG | Motorola | Nokia | Palm | Pantech | RIM | Samsung | Sanyo | Siemens | Sony Ericsson | Apple iPhone/Other

Source – CNBC

There Are 5 Billion Cell Phones In The World – Do You Still Use A Landline?

The BBC has an article in which it claims  that over one billion new cell phones have now connected during the past 18 months. The article goes on to state that, worldwide, there are now over 5 billion cell phones in use, and not surprising, another 5 billion cells sitting in drawers somewhere or in landfills. In addition, cell phones now outnumber computers by a ratio of 3 to 1.

The article goes on to state that:

In western Europe, mobile phone penetration has reached 130%, which Mr Wood attributed in part to mobile phone operators including in their statistics connections that have been dormant for many months.

“But often people have more than one phone, a home phone and a work phone,” he said.

“The growth of connected devices will also drive this phenomenon, a laptop with a USB dongle, the Apple iPad, and so on.

“In the future, that market is likely to explode.”

Ian Fogg, mobile phone analyst at Forrester Research said: “An increasing number of phone users in emerging markets such as eastern Europe will use more than one SIM card in the same phone, in order to get the best deals.”

“Some mobile companies are now launching mobile phones with more than one SIM slot to take advantage of this phenomenon,” he said.

Mr Wood added: “As the eastern bloc crumbled, mobile phone networks were deployed, and people skipped fixed line telephones altogether, in favour of mobiles.

I haven’t used a traditional landline for well over two years. I had previously been using Vonage taking advantage of the low rates and also the broadband connection I had, to make local and long distant calls. Last month I dumped Vonage and went strictly cell phone only for both my wife and myself, taking advantage of the $30 a month plan from Straight Talk. Thus far neither of us miss not having a wired phone inside of our home.

So my question is this. Do you still have a landline phone? If so, why?

Comments welcome.

Source – BBC

Which Cell Phone Companies Offer The Best And Worst Coverage?

You are in the market to buy a cell phone and want service from a company that offers the best coverage where you live. How do you know which company to use? The first thing you may wish to do is ask family members and friends which company they use and how the coverage is. But if you are like I am, you also want to do some checking on your own to get other folks’ opinion about the service they are receiving as well in your area.

There are two sites that you can try to find out just how good a company’s cell service is where you live. One is DeadCell Zones, which provides an interactive map à la Google to zoom in and out of locations and also offers the ability to select from the four major carriers: Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.

Another site to check to see if you live in a black hole is CellReception. This site offers what it describes as a database of over:

142,822 cell phone tower locations registered with the FCC, and over 55,300 cell phone carrier comments submitted voluntarily from real customers using their service all over the U.S.

I found CellReception very useful since it was easy to find which company offered the best coverage for my neighborhood. The comments from consumers were very helpful and I would highly recommend this site.

The importance of coverage for those of us who have dropped our landline and have gone completely to cell can not be over stated. I found my phone from AT&T had a very poor signal reception inside my home, whereas my Straight Talk phone, which uses Verizon, is great. I also believe that the phone model itself will dictate how good your signal will be.

Is there a site that you would recommend? Let us know.

Comments welcome.

Source – DeadCellZones

Source – CellReception

Straight Talk Cell Phone Service – Customer Service Reviewed

I had the opportunity to contact customer service at Straight Talk for two issues I was having. I had read reviews and comments from other Straight Talk users, had nothing but complaints about the service they had received. So when I dialed ST for help, I braced myself for a hard time and possible non reconciliation of my problems.

The first issue I had was with a new ST cell phone I had bought for my wife. When I activated the ST cell phone for myself, I had no issues and the phone activated immediately. But I wasn’t able to activate my wife’s phone and contacted ST. They tried a number of things, but the bottom line was that their servers were overwhelmed and it could take 24 hours to get the phone activated. No problem.

So I brought up another problem to the agent concerning my ST phone. I had signed up for auto refill and some how I lost 3 weeks of talk time. Long story short, I hit the wrong button when I signed up and accidentally added more minutes to my phone. The support person was able to credit me with a full refund and correctly signed me up for auto refill. No muss, no fuss. I was impressed.

Thus far ST has been great.  Phone calls and text messaging are received and sent without issue. Browsing though is not so hot. It is sooooo slow that to me it is useless. But at $30 a month per phone, I still believe it is a deal.

Update: This morning I activated my wife’s phone and it now works.

Comments welcome.

Straight Talk – Samsung R355C Cell Phone – Reviewed

First of all I wanted to thank everyone who provided me with information concerning Straight Talk and for their phone recommendations.

I did my homework and took the recommendation about buying a Straight Talk phone directly from Walmart. Some of you recommended using Walmart because of their liberal return policy and in the fact that some were skeptical of the customer service that Straight Talk provides.

Here is what I learned. I went to our local Walmart store and found that if I bought the Straight Talk Samsung R355C cell phone for $128.88, I had to purchase a separate $30 phone card, which brought the total cost to $158.88. The same package directly from Straight Talk was $159.99 with free shipping.

As I was viewing the Samsung phone, I looked down below the product description, and to my surprise they had both the phone and a $30 phone card for $128.88. I have linked the page below and I hope that it works for you, as it did for me. I also opted for home delivery which was free as well. The delivery was quick and took only two days via Fedex.

So here are some of my first thoughts about the phone and Straight Talk as well. This is based on only having the service and phone for four days.

The good points:

Activation was simple and uneventful. I completed everything online at the Straight Talk site. The phone is simple to use and setup, with easy to use menu’s. There is also a tutorial online at the Straight Talk site which walks you through every step you you need to complete any task. The cell screen is clear and easy to read. I also enjoy the voice command software that makes dialing a call easy by just saying the persons name you wish to call, ‘call John’ and confirm with a simple ‘yes’ command. Signal strength where I live is strong and better than the AT&T phone I replaced.

The not so good points:

The keys on the keyboard are small. Camera resolution could be better but is OK.

I’ll be using the phone for the next few weeks and report back my findings in a follow up review.

Comments welcome.

Walmart – Samsung R355C Cell Phone + $30 Phone Card

Is Anyone Using The Samsung R451C With A Straight Talk Plan?

My wife is considering changing over her cell service to Straight Talk. She has been looking at several of the phones that Straight Talk offers including the Samsung R451C. She likes the slide out QWERTY keyboard feature that she believes would make texting easier. Since neither of us have used Straight Talk service or this particular cell phone, I wanted to get the opinions of others before she took the plunge.

She also believes that buying the phone and Straight Talk package from Walmart is a better deal, since the package is on sale for $99.88 and includes a $30 phone card. My opinion is that if the phone is not what she wants, Walmart has a fairly liberal return policy and she would not have to deal with Straight Talk directly. From some of the forums about Straight Talk, there seems to be a lack of customer service.

This is the package that Walmart is offering for $99.88 which includes a $30 phone card.

If you have used the Samsung R451C cell phone, either with or without service from Straight Talk, I would appreciate your opinion.

Comments welcome.

Source – Walmart

Buying A Prepaid Cellphone? Bring Your ID

A proposal is being brought before the House that would require anyone who purchasers a prepaid cellphone show identification to make the purchase. It seems that in countries such as Australia, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Norway, Switzerland, Thailand and South Africa registration is already required in the hope of stopping terrorism. You may be wondering why this has now come to the attention of our elected officials?

Here is the answer:

Faisal Shahzad, the 30-year-old suspect in the Times Square plot, allegedly used a prepaid cellphone to arrange the purchase of a Nissan Pathfinder that he attempted to turn into a car bomb, the senators noted. He also used the phone to make a series of calls to Pakistan before the bomb attempt. Federal authorities caught a break when a number listed in the phone’s call log matched one provided to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials months earlier, when Shahzad reentered the United States from Pakistan.

“But for that stroke of luck, authorities might never have been able to match the phone number” provided by the Pathfinder’s seller, the lawmakers said in a news release.

But the privacy folk present this scenario and concerns:

Civil liberties advocates have concerns about the proposal, saying there must be a role for anonymous communications in a free society. “They remain important for whistleblowers, battered spouses, reporters’ sources,” said James X. Dempsey, policy director for the Center for Democracy and Technology. And yet, he said, the space for such anonymous or pseudonymous communications has been narrowed. Pay phones, for example, have largely disappeared.

Privacy advocates worry that prepaid cellphone registration might be a step toward something even more worrisome in their view: identity registration to access the Internet. “I think everybody would admit in a free society there is a need for some ability to communicate without creating a full digital paper trail,” Dempsey said. “We’re just saying this proposal has to be considered in a broader context.”

The unfortunate thing is that I seriously doubt that this will stop the use of prepaid cell phones being purchased anonymously. We struggle in this country trying to control the sale of guns. I fear the same will happen with the sale of prepaid cell phones. There will be a new market cropping up for black market cell phones if and when the law passes.

What do you think?

Comments as always are welcome.

Source – The Washington Post

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