Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

Two Weekends of Movies, Dogs, and Apple Stuff

April 8th, 2019 Comments off

Last Saturday (03/30) we saw Us with both my brothers (and R) and afterwards they came back to the house to hang out for a bit. The movie was… ok. I don’t agree with those who have said it was better than Get Out, but I would like to see it a second time to see what I missed the first time around.

Joe has been traveling for work a lot, so he took a Friday and Monday off so we could have a three day weekend together.

Friday (04/05) we saw Shazam which is hands down the best DC movie I’ve seen yet. I really didn’t care for Wonder Woman or Aquaman (so cheesy and just bad), but Shazam was interesting and humorous. I was shocked to find out, as we sat down in the theater, that it was over two hours long, though. I found the beginning a bit slow, but overall the pacing was good. After the movie we had lunch at Anyways and I got the shrimp avocado tacos again which were delicious just like last time. Joe was going to get the meatloaf but our total wouldn’t have been enough to use our $5 off coupon, so he changed it to beef stew. After the waitress walked away I noticed the coupon was only good Sun-Thu so I told him he should change it to the meatloaf but he decided to give the beef stew a try anyway and ended up really liking it. I got to try some and I agree it was delicious. When we were finished eating the waitress asked about the coupon (I had told her I had one earlier before I realized it wasn’t good) and I told her the issue. She honored it anyway which was nice!

Saturday (04/06) we spent some time hanging out with K and her dog at her house. We ordered Thai food for lunch. I was surprised to learn she likes Pad Se Ew just like me since she’s very much about eating plain food. After lunch we took the dogs for a walk since it was so nice outside. Once we got home from K’s house, Joe cleaned his car and I did a little light cleaning since I skipped it Friday. I like feeling accomplished, and keeping on top of household tasks helps. I also backed up my phone in preparation for an Apple Store visit on Sunday to replace the battery now that Apple supposedly allows this even with third party batteries installed. I couldn’t get a representative online to confirm this, however, so a visit to the store was necessary.

Sunday (04/07) we arrived at the Apple store before they officially opened at 11 am, which was my appointment time, so we walked to the Starbucks nearby for Joe to grab a drink. It was raining out which stinks since temperature-wise it was nice out, and the store is part of an outdoor mall, but we had umbrellas so it wasn’t too bad. The Apple genius confirmed they do now replace third party batteries, but they can’t do it unless the battery is at 50% or lower. Well, thanks for telling me that ahead of time! My battery was at 98% since I had charged it that morning. They offered to take it in the back and replace the battery once it ran down, but I was not having that. Instead, I turned the screen to always on, at maximum brightness, turned on the flashlight, and starting playing Tsum Tsum. We left the store and went to a food court area while I drained the battery. It only took about 45 minutes because the battery sucks. So much so, that once it hit 48% the phone just shut off (it has been doing that for about a month now). So back to the store we went to have them replace the battery. That took another half hour so we spent that time wandering the mall. All total it took two hours of our time because they can’t warn you about this stuff beforehand. Infuriating. Luckily we didn’t have other plans that day at least.

On the way home we stopped at a new to us BBQ place called Fire Water BBQ. I was stoked about their prices, but the food itself left much to be desired. They have five different sauces and I only barely liked one. The brisket was dry and bland and the sweet potato fries were too sweet (they sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar). Won’t be going back there.

At home I did a little shifting of some clothes in the closet and Joe went through some of his t-shirts and jeans. Between the two of us, we had a garbage bag full of clothing to donate.

Today we made a point to get up early (6:15 am) to help get us back on schedule for work tomorrow. We did some grocery shopping before going to Savers. Joe wanted to look at hoodies and I wanted some long t-shirts to go with my leggings and a dress to wear to a friend’s wedding. We struck out on all fronts, although I did get too long-sleeved shirts I liked.

We also stopped by the park district to purchase an annual pass for the dog park since it’s finally starting to get warm enough for us to go there again. Haven’t been there since November, but this year I decided not to wait until July to buy the pass at half price since we should get a lot of trips in prior to that.

We decided to grab lunch at Chilis which we both enjoyed. They have some really nice $8 and $9 lunches and it didn’t cost us anything out of pocket thanks to our Discover cash back rewards. I’m surprised we don’t go to Chilis more often since we’ve liked everything we’ve ordered the last two times we’ve eaten there. Speaking of Discover cashback, we used those rewards to get an Old Navy gift card on Sunday because Joe founds some light-weight hoodies there he liked. Gotta love that!

After lunch we came home and I took Wookie for a walk while Joe straightened up his side of the garage a bit. There’s more to be done, and my side needs a decluttering again as well. I plan on getting rid of two aquariums and all the hamster-related stuff I have because if I do get small pets in the future it will be rats, not a stupid hamster. Might as well clear the space all the hamster stuff is currently taking up!

I also worked out on the elliptical which makes three days in a row. I really want to lose some weight before the summer because I feel too lumpy in all the wrong places.

Categories: Friends, Movies, Shopping, Tech Tags:

Halloween Houses & Craft Shows

October 29th, 2018 Comments off

Saturday (10/20) we went to Willowbrook High School for their annual craft fair but left empty-handed unlike last year. I did see a few things I liked, including a little fleece jacket for Wookie that fastened with velcro (which she prefers over wearing something that goes over her head) but the only version in her size was cut a little crooked so I opted not to get it. I took the woman’s card and I might purchase a custom made jacket at some point since her prices were reasonable and she’s local.

Joe had to go to court twice that week (10/22 and 10/25) to get his old child support accounts officially terminated so they stop charging us $36 annually to maintain accounts that aren’t even being used. I really hate the state of Illinois and the hoops they make you jump through. He sat in the courtroom all morning and part of the afternoon that Monday just to get a stamped piece of paper that took less than five minutes to receive. Luckily on his return trip he only had to wait around an hour.

In between that was our wedding anniversary (10/23) so we visited the arboretum and had a nice dinner at Jameson’s Steakhouse.

This past Friday (10/26) we drove around Carol Stream to look at the houses decorated for Halloween.

On Saturday (10/27) after Joe donated some blood we stopped at Sonny Acres for apple cider donuts and a walking taco for yours truly. I swear their prices keep going up. A half dozen of donuts was $9 and my walking taco was $4. That will probably be our last visit since it’s not that much fun anymore as it always seems cold and there’s nothing to do if you don’t have kids. Doesn’t really matter anyway since the property is up for sale and likely won’t be around come this time next year anyway. That night we stopped at Just Kabobs for dinner and then went on the Gallery of Ghoulish Homes Tour in St. Charles. It wasn’t judging night (which was the previous weekend when the weather was super windy) and we started a bit early (before 6 pm) than usual so it wasn’t the same. We didn’t get out of the car and I didn’t bother taking any photos. Traditions are nice but sometimes they start to get stale, you know? Perhaps that’s a hint we should move…

Yesterday (10/28) we went to Oak Brook mall because I had an appointment with the Apple store to have my iPhone 6 battery replaced since they are only offering the discounted $29 replacements until the end of the year. They wouldn’t do it, however, since I had already had the battery replaced by Batteries+ last year. Something about liability and for the protection of their staff which I guess I understand but still sucks. I debated just upgrading my phone now but other than the improved camera, I’m not all that thrilled with the changes that have been made to the latest iPhones and I sure as hell don’t like the price points. I can’t stand Android, though, so eventually I will have to upgrade, but I’m hoping my current battery will hold out another year and I’ll get whatever the latest and greatest Apple has to offer in 2019. I want to have a good camera in my phone for when we return to Disney World in spring 2020.

Today I went to Savers and then met my friend for lunch at Pot Belly. I struck out at Savers even though I did find a sweater I liked. It was The Loft too, for only $6, but was made with wool and rabbit fur which was itchy and made me sneeze so I passed.

Categories: Excursions, Love & Marriage, Pets, Tech Tags:

Low Batteries

October 19th, 2017 Comments off

Saturday was rainy so we ended up going to the cheap theater to see Despicable Me 3. They installed leather reclining seats since the last time we’ve been there (and raised ticket prices from $1.75 to $2.75). I can’t decide whether I love or hate the new seats. On the plus side it makes the aisles so wide  no one can reach your seat to kick it and the seats are large and comfy. The downside is I’m too short to sit normally because my feet don’t touch the floor so I have to recline and after a couple of hours it’s not really comfortable anymore. 

Later that evening we went to Batteries Plus and I paid $60 to have my iPhone battery replaced. I was sick of it losing 25% in mere minutes. It spent more time on the charger than being used and was a constant source of anxiety and frustration. Now it’s almost like having a new phone. I can use it all day and it still has 20-30% battery life when I go to bed. I hope it stays like that for at least another year since I’m not thrilled with the price or design of the latest phones; consequently I’m not in a hurry to upgrade. I’m holding off on installing iOS 11 too since it will kill some of my favorite apps once I upgrade. 

When I woke up Saturday with a slightly sore throat I knew I had caught Joe’s cold despite our best efforts not to infect me. I’ve spent the last several days feeling exhausted and congested. I haven’t been this sick in years; I even called in sick to work on Tuesday. I hadn’t gotten a flu shot yet or this might have been avoided but with the allergy testing I didn’t have any arms left to spare for more needles. In any case, I started taking zinc right away and I think it helped speed up the process since Joe has been sick for nearly two weeks and I’m already starting to feel better. That’s a good thing because I have a busy five day weekend ahead of me. More on that later. 

Categories: Health, Movies, Tech Tags:

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8-Inch Tablet

August 9th, 2017 Comments off

I bought a new tablet over the weekend! I also bought a new water bottle, some lightning cables, and some dog repellent to replace the mace I was carrying on walks, but lets focus on the tablet, shall we?

My five year old iPad just keeps running slower and slower because as the apps are being updated to accomodate newer phones and iOS versions the device can’t keep up. It’s unfortunate because there’s nothing actually wrong with my iPad but it’s getting to the point where it’s becoming very frustrating to use. I’ve been waiting nearly a year to upgrade because I decided I wanted an iPad Mini which would be easier to handle and travel with. I was waiting for Apple to release a new version, but then they threw me for a loop when they didn’t release an updated Mini this year. Rumor has it they are phasing out the Mini completely, as are other manufacturers. Apparently that size is not as popular as I assumed.

In any case, once I learned this I almost ordered an Amazon Fire Tablet since for $50 how could you go wrong? I’m glad I did a little research first since it turns out the apps you can install on it are very limited and don’t include the Disney Tsum Tsum game I love. They don’t even have a YouTube app – you have to just use the mobile version of the site in the web browser! Plus after seeing one in action at Target I didn’t care for it. While there I spotted the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.0 which was on sale for $160. After a little deliberation I decided I’d rather spend $160 on two year old tech than $400 on the equally old iPad Mini, so I went back to Target the following day to buy one. Unfortunately they only stock the white version which I really didn’t want since I was afraid it would yellow over time. I ended up ordering a titanium one from Amazon instead for the same price which I received the following day (Sunday).

While the Android experience isn’t nearly as bad as it was five years ago when we bought an Asus tablet, I’m still not loving it. I don’t understand why developers don’t make iOS and Android versions of the same app identical. The iOS versions are easier and more intuitive so it’s frustrating using the same app on an Android device. I also don’t like how the emojis look on Android, or how the notifications work since you can’t customize them to the same level of detail as you can with iOS. Overall I’m a bit disappointed but not so much that I won’t use the tablet for its orignal intention – surfing, YouTube, and my game – so I can give my poor iPhone a rest as it’s coming up on three years and the battery life is sucking. Speaking of battery life – the new tablet only gets 8 hours before having to recharge which rather sucks.

One of the things that really bugs me, but might just be an issue with the tablet size/resolution in general, is how images render on it. For instance, thumbnails in apps like Reddit and Flixster look absolutely horrible – very low res and almost out of focus, but once you click on it and it opens the main page for the article/movie it looks fine. It’s just odd, but again, I’m not sure if the same thing would happen on an iPad Mini. I suspect not simply because there’s usually iPad specific versions of the apps, whereas with Android they just make one app that is supposed to work on all size screens but in practice really doesn’t function well.

Surprisingly, most of the people who commented on my new purchase are big Samsung fans and hate Apple. That really blows my mind. I do dislike how expensive Apple products are, but I disagree with the naysayers who claim iOS is not as user-friendly as Android. iOS is easier to use and is far superior to Android in functionality. I do not plan on buying another Android device again. Next time I’m in the market for a tablet I will be getting an iPad even if I have to compromise on the size.

Categories: Tech Tags:

Ting – Our New Wireless Service

April 3rd, 2016 Comments off

Thursday we initiated the process of switching our wireless carrier from AT&T to Ting. I had heard about Ting awhile back but was on the fence about switching. AT&T increasing the rate on our plan and Joe losing his job pushed us to reconsider the switch.

We ordered the SIM cards from Ting a couple of weeks ago. Since they are a pay for what you use type service they don’t give you the SIMs for free. Each one was $9 plus shipping so our total was $23. I read that most carriers do not prorate your bill so I felt Thursday would be the perfect time to start the process since it was near the end of the billing cycle and it gave us time to work out any lack of service issues.

I was also concerned AT&T wouldn’t unlock my phone in a timely manner since they won’t do it until after you’ve settled your final bill including an ETF (early termination fee). We’ve been with AT&T for seven years, switching from T-Mobile which we liked simply because at the time they were the only carrier that supported the iPhone. We stayed with AT&T because I was grandfathered into their unlimited data plan, we had a discount through Joe’s employer, and because our contracts were never in sync so there was always an ETF to consider unless we waited until both phones were off contract. However, after calculating how much we’d save with Ting, not to mention the referral fee from a friend plus Ting paying a portion of your ETF back in the form of an account credit, we decided to bite the bullet.

I requested Joe’s unlock at the beginning of the week since his phone was already out of contract and it was granted in less than an hour. Thursday evening I chatted with Ting and learned that I should request Ting to port over our numbers which would automatically cancel our AT&T account. The porting process took less than a half hour (although they do warn it could take up to 24) and we decided to deal with the AT&T portion and actually putting the new SIM cards in our phones on Friday morning.

That whole process was easy for Joe’s phone, and when I logged into our Ting account I got really confused because it was showing his test text message under my phone number. Long story short – I’m a doofus. The Ting account does not update immediately and the text message I was looking at (not carefully enough, obviously) was a text that had been sent to my phone the night before. I just never got it since I hadn’t yet asked AT&T to unlock my phone or put the new SIM card in. Derp!

On top of that, I got really pissed at AT&T because when I tried logging into our account to check the final bill it said we no longer had an account. Turns out they had sent an email to Joe (as he’s the primary account holder) letting him know our logins were changed from our phone numbers to a new login they had created. Why they do this I’m not sure, but whatever.

Once I got in the account showed a zero balance even though I was expecting an ETF, so I figured why not request the unlock? Worst they could do was deny it. Unlike Joe’s unlock request, mine wasn’t being granted as quickly, or so I thought. I called AT&T to find out what my final bill was, thinking the ETF was holding things up, and the rep told me my account was paid in full and the contract satisfied. Hmmm… that’s odd because last I had checked, my contract wasn’t up until September, but who was I to argue if they were going to let me out of my contract early and not charge the ETF? I went online to request the unlock again since the first time I put my name in and Joe is the account holder. I figured that might be holding things up, but after looking closer at the emails AT&T sent me, despite their VERY misleading verbiage, my initial request had already been granted shortly after submitting it. Derp again!

Needless to say, everything was smooth sailing from there. The only challenge is for me to not use my phone mindlessly when we’re not on a wireless network, although even if I did we wouldn’t be paying HALF what AT&T was charging us, so it’s really just a challenge to see how low we can keep our monthly bill. I love how you can log into your account and the system tells you what your bill is going to be based on your usage up to that point. I’m obsessed with it!


I also love that you can set usage alerts so you’ll know when you’re getting close to jumping into a different bucket for your minutes, messages, or data. On top of that, as seen in the screenshot, you can rename your phones instead of just seeing the phone number itself. Really cool service!

I’m pretty stoked that instead of being charged $135 per month our bill will be no more than $70 (based on our previous usage on AT&T). If you’re interesting in switching to Ting too, click my referral link, set up an account so you can purchase your SIM card(s), and you’ll get a $25 credit off your first bill! (And if you happen to forgot or not see the credit come up, just give Ting the URL since it’s unique to my account and they can retroactively apply it since that’s what I did with the referral link we were given).

Added on 4/11/16 – Well son of a bitch, AT&T reps don’t know what they are talking about (shocking, NOT). I just received a bill today for my ETF. On top of that they charge taxes on it for the remaining months so my final bill, which is just fees and no actual usage, is $173.75. Ting will give me back $36.25 of that, plus I received the $25 referral credit, so I’m out $112 for terminating my contract early. However, in two months we will have made up that difference and then it will be all savings from there, so it was still a good decision.

Added on 5/16/16 – Well AT&T once again baffles me. They sent me a second bill showing the ETF and all associated fees credited off the account. I have no idea why they did that, but I’m not going to argue. Woot! Also, our first bill with Ting was $34 but cost us nothing due to the credits we had so that’s awesome. I just realized we don’t have MMS with Ting, though, so I have to use my Google Voice # if I want to send pictures to people. Considering the fact that I’m not a big texter, and the people I do message I contact through Facebook Messenger and Trillian, it doesn’t really affect me much so whatever. I have noticed the cellular signal isn’t nearly as strong at AT&T was, however, which is a bummer, but for now it’s good enough and definitely saving us money which was the whole point of the switch to begin with.

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