Thursday, March 26, 2009

Email to Text Messages (SMS) with Celluar Carriers

Most cellular carriers allow you to send an email to a cell phone number and have it appear as a text message (SMS message). For AT&T, for example, you send an email to, obviously replacing the "1235551234" with the cellphone number you're sending to. On the receiver's phone, it appears as a text.

There are some tricks. For example, if the message length is very limited. It depends on the cell carrier, but 140 to 160 characters is about the max. You can run into problems if you violate this: for example, T-Mobile will silently drop emails that are longer.

Other problems can arise. For example, AT&T won't accept the email if there's no "From" address. I'm speaking from a coding perspective here (sending the emails from, say, PHP code), but I've found the following two things to be key:

1. Keep the email short. 100 characters is safe.

2. Always provide a "subject" line and "from" email address, even if older phones can't even see those fields or use them.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Random Pic Time

Child and I were driving to a friend's house when we pulled up behind this truck. We decided to try out the camera on my new iPhone. It takes pictures surprisingly fast--I was impressed.

No idea why this guy was carting an elk head around in the back of his truck...

Qwest v. Comcast: The First Month

After the first month of service, the first problem, and the first bill, who wins: Qwest or Comcast?

Qwest. No contest. (Yet.)


If memory serves correctly, it took us several phone calls, visits, and quite a bit of downtime to finally get Comcast working. Comcast eventually refunded two weeks worth of service, I believe, but I would have preferred forgoing the headache instead.

Qwest had me up and running when they said they would.


I'm inclined to be a little more lenient to Comcast here, simply because our last apartment was old, as was the wiring Comcast had to deal with. However, even after they put brand-new wiring in, they couldn't keep my Internet connection up and running.

So far (knock on wood) my Qwest connection hadn't had any problems except a brief downtime that was fixed by rebooting the modem/router, but it's only been a few weeks. This is better judged over a series of months. We'll see...


Qwest wins again. When my connection died, I called up customer support. Unlike Comcast, who refused to touch my wireless router (and enjoyed blaming problems they couldn't figure out on it), the Qwest support guy didn't even blink when I told him I had a wireless router hooked up to their modem. He simply walked me through rebooting it, in addition to their modem, which fixed the problem.

I can't go too far blaming Comcast for not wanting to deal with "unsupported hardware," but it certainly wasn't that difficult for Qwest, and it made all the difference in my opinion of them.


Again, this is better judged over a series of months, but my first Qwest bill was correct, and (helpfully) told me which month I was on in my discounted promotional period. Comcast rarely got a bill correct two months running.

Let's hope Qwest continues to impress.

Friday, March 13, 2009


When Child and I had been dating for a few months, Child bought a new cellphone, and gave me her old cellphone with strict instructions to get a plan.

Up to that point, I had been content with a landline, and avoided it as much as possible. Phone calls usually meant someone wanted me to do something, and I am very selfish with my time. Child was cute, though, so I didn't really have a choice, and followed her instructions.

After Child went through six Walmart Quik-Brak® phones over the course of three years, my work bought me an iPhone and I gave Child her original phone back. The screen is pretty scratched, and the "6" key is a little sticky, but other than that it's still going strong. It's been dropped, drowned, and pretty much everything else but burned at the stake, and it's still trucking.

FWIW, the iPhone is for testing a new mobile version of my work's website on. Work paid for the phone, and I pay for the T-Mobile data plan and do the jailbreak on the phone.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cables 'n' Cords

I just finished organizing my "electronics box." Ignoring the handful of electronic gadgets in the box whose cords are attached, I have the following free-floating, unused cords:

7 power cords
4 CAT-5 (ethernet) cables
1 coaxial cable
2 car adapter cables
2 extension cords
8 USB cords, not including the USB cord to my camera, which spurred the digging through the electronics box to begin with.

Add in the cables and cords around my desk, and you'll add maybe 6 more. Add the cords attached to electronics gadgets (used and unused), and you'll add about 20 more.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


Child and I bought a new washer and dryer. We got them from a Sears outlet store, where they sell less-than-perfect merchandise at nice discounts. Our washer and dryer are two different colors and both came with some aesthetic problems, but they're supposed to be functionally fine.

In theory. The dryer had some larger problems with the control problem (loose, sliding off), so Child and I decided to get the 3-year warranty on it. The idea was that if something went wrong with it, Sears would either fix it, or replace the dryer. Our hope was that something would immediately go so majorly wrong that Sears would replace it, and we'd get a brand-new dryer, and we could even get it in a color that matched our washer.

Well, the installers set it up yesterday, and it does have a few problems. The dryer door doesn't close completely unless you push it just right, and halfway through a dry cycle the control panel started flashing "F70". We have our fingers crossed that it's a horrible, unfixable problem, possibly involving the dryer gaining sentience and attempting to kill us in our sleep, so we can get a new dryer.

Comcast v. Qwest

In our new house here in Draper, an obliging neighbor is currently providing me with wireless internet, but I have my own hookup coming on Tuesday. Or Wednesday. I can't remember which now. Too much going on.

I'm giving Qwest a try for a couple months to see how I like it, and I can always switch back to Comcast if needed.

ISPs definitely need more competition.


Child and I have had a busy past few days. Her father was recently diagnosed with lymphoma (cancer), then had a seizure Wednesday night and had to go to the hospital. Also on Wednesday, we moved from Provo to Draper and on the plus side, bought a washer and dryer. More on that later.

Yesterday, we visited Child's father in the hospital. On the way home, I was driving, and there was a sudden thump from under the car. I thought a car part had fallen off, and looked in the rear-view mirror to see a dog sprawled in the middle of the road and two adults and a kid standing on the sidewalk ten feet away.

Aw, nuts.

I pulled a U-turn and pulled up in from of the people. "Is that your dog?" I asked, and thank goodness they shook their heads. "Not ours," they said. Running over a dog is bad enough--doing it in front of the owners would be worse.

I parked the car and Child and I got out. To my surprise, the dog (a chihuahua mix) was able to stagger from the middle of the road over to the side. It looked like it just had a broken leg, and fortunately it was wearing a tag with a phone number. I called the number, and the owners turned out to live just around the corner.

While waiting for them to show up, the people on the sidewalk informed us that a cat had actually chased the dog into the road. Looking across the street, I could see the cat sitting atop a pickup truck, smirking at the scene.

The owners finally showed up, and were thankfully very nice. The lady apologized for not keeping her dog corralled, and said that some relative of hers was a vet tech at a local clinic. So all was well that ended well, and I was just glad the dog hadn't been injured worse. Apparently my karma from volunteering at the animal shelter caught up.