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Sprint MVNO Ting Mobile Review

July 28, 2013 by debbie T | Wireless

[Click to receive a $25 credit toward Ting service or purchase – and full disclosure, I will get $25 as well!]

Ting logo

We needed cheap wireless service for my husband’s old Sprint HTC EVO 4G phone, and after I found a list of Sprint MVNOs I narrowed my choices to Ting and Chit Chat Mobile.

Both Ting and ChitChat offered great wireless fees, but I think what sold me on Ting was the vast amount of quality help on their web site. Questions on their discussion forum were answered promptly, there was an extensive knowledge base, and I loved how clean and simple the Ting web site was. I was confident that if I ran into trouble with our older HTC EVO phone, there would be someone to help me.

Ting Buckets

I especially liked their billing & rates philosophy. They only charge for the amount of services used, in levels or “buckets” of XS through XXL. Their rates are very reasonable and I love that limits can be set so you’ll never spend more than you can afford.

The only extra charges are fees for each device and other surcharges like taxes.

Ting Buckets

Their most popular level is M, but you can mix and match for whichever or whatever you use the most. For instance, I’m planning on no more than 500 voice minutes, 1000 text messages and 100mb data. Including the $6 fee for our one device, our monthly charge hopefully will be no more than $23 plus taxes. And if we only use 100 minutes or 100 messages, our rate will drop to the lowest level. You only pay for what you use!

Ting Dashboard & Alerts

It’s really simple to view your usage at any time by logging into your account, and viewing the dashboard. They also have an Android app as well. You really can’t get any more straight-forward than that!

the Ting usage dashboard

To make sure we don’t go over, I was easily able to set a cap for data and other “alerts” that will warn us when we are getting close to our monthly limits. They have a great video tutorial that explains how alerts work.

Ting Customer Service

What I found to be most impressive about Ting was their customer service. I phoned them twice and both times someone answered immediately. No pressing #1 for this department or #2 for that department. Someone competent answered the phone and my questions were answered intelligently without frustration. How refreshing!

HTC Evo 4G Set Up

Activating the HTC Evo was fairly easy, and it can be done on their web site, using their activation form. You will need your device’s MEID number, which can be found in the phone’s settings menu. If you are porting your own cell number, you’ll need your current cell account number and PIN/password.

We had a little trouble with activation because his EVO phone still had remnants of a very old cell number, so we had to perform a carrier wipe and device updates by following the steps on their knowledge-base tutorial. Then we got data and MMS working easily by following the next steps in the same tutorial.

So far, our wireless service has been fine, the same as when we had Sprint service before.

The only negative aspect is that Ting only offers Sprint service for Android phones! Darn! I want to find a wireless company like them that works with iPhone!

Once we experience a couple of billing cycles, I’ll be sure to post an update.

Get $25 Ting Credit

So, if you enjoyed my review and would like to try Ting for your Sprint wireless service, then click the link below to receive a $25 credit toward a new device or wireless service.

I used someone else’s link when I signed up, and immediately received my $25 account credit. It really works!

[Click to receive a $25 credit toward Ting service or purchase – and full disclosure, I will get $25 as well!]

One last little tidbit about Ting is that they are a division of Tucows. I remember Tucows from years back selling domain names and offering free/shareware software downloads.

Switched Old Verizon Blackberry Tour 9630 to Page Plus Cellular

June 13, 2012 by debbie T | Wireless

We recently set up an older Verizon Blackberry Tour 9630 phone for cell service at PagePlus, a Verizon MVNO (reseller). So far it’s working out very well.

My husband needed a talk/text plan (no data) and the Blackberry keyboards are so easy for texting, much better than a cheap flip phone.

Originally, we unlocked the Blackberry Tour using cellunlock.net for $7.99 (watch youtube video for discount) – and then used a T-Mobile sim card with the monthly 1500 talk/text plan for $30. It was a great plan, but because the Blackberry Tour could only access Edge 2G, the phone was virtually useless in and around our home.

So, we decided to give Page Plus a try.

They are a Verizon Wireless MVNO, (mobile virtual network operator) which basically means they are a Verizon service reseller, buying the service in bulk, then setting their own fees.

Their Talk n Text plan was perfect for my husband. It offers 1,200 Minutes and 3,000 Texts. The plan also includes 100mb of data, but unfortunately, I’m not sure how to set up the Blackberry Tour for data use.

The first thing we needed to do, was port my husband’s T-Mobile cell number to Page Plus. I tried the process online initially, but we ended up having to call their customer service. We had the Blackberry MEID number handy, which can be found in the Blackberry “Options>Status” menu. We also had other necessary info like the T-Mobile account number, pin number, etc.

Then we waited, and waited, and waited. It took about 24 hours for the number to port. I don’t know why, but I guess it can take that long. 🙁

Once we knew the phone wasn’t hooked up to T-Mobile anymore, we called the Page Plus customer service again and they activated our Blackberry. I can’t recall the exact steps, but we had to type in several codes/numbers in one of the settings.

After we were done, the phone wasn’t connected to the network, even after rebooting. 🙁

Then I remembered that we had to change the network settings when we initially unlocked the phone, so we clicked Options>Mobile Network and changed the “Network Technology” from GSM to 1XEV.

That worked!

So far, we’ve been using the PagePlus network for a few weeks and it’s worked very well.

I do have to mention that their online account access is very basic, with only the bare minimum of information available.

It displays your current plan, expiration date, and the amount of minutes/texts left. There is a link for Call Records, and it’s updated very quickly, but the “range” options are a bit confusing and don’t always match what you’ve selected.

But it’s a great price and so much less expensive than Verizon (especially for a Blackberry) so I’m really not complaining. Just wanted to warn others what to expect.

If you have an out-of-contract Verizon phone hanging around, and don’t want to keep paying Verizon exorbitant fees, we recommend trying Page Plus Cellular.

UPDATE (2013-06-14): We used Page Plus last year for about a month, it worked very well on the Blackberry Tour. The only reason we stopped the service was because my husband acquired a new phone at work.

Well once again, we’re in need of cheap cell phone service, and Page Plus came through with free activation for a new cell number! (They charge $10 on the web site)

I phoned customer service (warning: I was on hold for many minutes waiting to talk to someone), recited the MEID number (Options>Status), dialed *228, restarted, and the phone was up and running with a new cell number and $2 credit.

I just needed to log into my Page Plus account online, add the new phone (using the new cell number) the add minutes. For now, we’re using the $25 Pay-as-you-go plan for 416 minutes (or approx 500 text messages at 5cents ea)

How to Change Verizon Fios Router from WEP to WPA2, Plus Other Security Adjustments

December 3, 2010 by debbie T | InternetWireless

It’s a good thing that Verizon FIOS , by default, offers its customers at least a little security on their wireless routers, instead of leaving them with a 100% open wireless network. I suppose it’s in Verizon’s best interest, since an open wifi network would allow neighbors and passersby to jump on to their internet service for free.

But truthfully, the default security WEP is extremely weak, and is very easy to hack. Just google "WEP hack" and you’ll find pages of article and tutorials!

So what does that really mean to you? It means that anyone in range of your home can easily gain access to your network. Why is that a problem? Well, if they are sharing your network, then they can easily achieve access to your computers, stealing private info, snooping on your activity, gaining access to your email accounts, installing malware, etc.

The good news is, you can easily change the router security from WEP to WPA2 with just a few clicks. And you can even keep the same numerical password / key if you’d like, but I highly suggest to change it, but that would be up to you.

So, there is no excuse anymore! Lock down your router! It only takes a couple of minutes!

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a paid security expert, so please be warned that things can go wrong. The worst that can probably happen is you somehow lock yourself out of your wireless network. In that case, you can click the "reset" button on the router and all settings will revert back to factory defaults. Keep in mind, you should NOT attempt to make any adjustments when you are in a rush, just in case something goes wrong. In other words, don’t start messing with your settings right before an important online meeting that requires online access!

See instructions on how to reset your Verizon FIOS router if you need it.

Before You Begin

This tutorial is based on the Actiontec MI424-WR Verizon FIOS wireless router. If your router is a different model or brand, then your settings might differ.

If your computer normally accesses the Internet via a wireless connection, then I suggest using a wired Ethernet cable to attach your computer to the FIOS router. (Ethernet looks like a big telephone cable.) Since you are editing the wireless settings, it will probably bounce you out of the wireless network once any password changes are made. If you are bounced out of wifi, then you will need to log into the network again using the new passkey.

At first glance, these instructions might look very confusing and overwhelming, but don’t let it stop you from trying. Print out the instructions and carefully follow each step. Take your time, and don’t rush. BREATHE and relax!

#1 Find the WEP Key (Access Password)

First off, locate the Verizon FIOS wireless modem/router and turn it over to reveal the label with your model information. The tech that installed your service should have informed you that this is where your WEP password/key is located just in case you need to find it again. That "WEP key" is is what you’ve been using to log into your wireless network.

Find_the_WEP_Key__Access_Password

While you are at the bottom of your router, make note of the serial number located under the bar code. You might possibly need it if your installation tech changed your admin password from the default password to something more secure. More on that in the next part.

Admin Password

#2 Log Into Router As Admin

In order to access the settings of your Verizon FIOS router, launch your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari.)

Read the Rest of the Article

Do I Love the iPhone?

July 2, 2009 by debbie T | Digital PhotographyiTunes & iPhoneWireless

So, I did pick up my new iPhone 3GS last weekend. Black, 32gb.

And I adore it! I love love love that I am able to have internet where ever I am. I loved the iPod Touch, but it was limited to only wifi, so I missed out on a lot. But the iPhone, oh I am in heaven!

I really love the camera, both still photographs and video are wonderful. And again, being able to upload or email immediately is so cool. (Can you guess this is my first Smart Phone? My husband has had a Blackberry for awhile, but this is MINE!)

iphone 3GS - photo of Mindy

The true test will be when we travel up north to New Hampshire or Maine. Don’t know how the AT&T service will fair in the boonies. I have a feeling I won’t be connecting on 3G, but it’ll be okay. My expectations are low, so I hope they will surprise me!

Disconnecting Windows in VMware Fusion

January 15, 2009 by debbie T | InternetMac SoftwareWindows on the MacWireless

Since I am not running any anti-virus or anti-malware programs while using Windows XP in VMware Fusion, I don’t want Windows to connect to the Internet. It’s very easy to toggle my network connection in Fusion.

Click the little “double arrow” icon in the bottom toolbar in Fusion. Choose to Connect or Disconnect from the network. Very easy.

fusion-wifi

Dodge (Chrysler) Offers Wifi in Vehicles

November 24, 2008 by debbie T | Wireless

While watching the football game yesterday afternoon, we noticed commercials for Dodge trucks with an option for wifi connectivity.

Hmm, what’s that about?

Googled and found that yes, indeed they added 3G wireless connection using Autonet Mobile to their vehicles.

Here is an older video I found on youtube from Chrysler:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mc9n9nOJEA0

This made me immediately think about security. Could anyone else connect to the “hotspot” or did it offer password protection, or a firewall, etc. Did some more digging.

It costs $500 for the router (plus install fees) and the plans are $30 per month for 1gb of data transfer and $60 for 5gb. From what I read, it doesn’t appear to be that fast of a connection; you will not be streaming video or playing online games.

They will install the router in any vehicle, doesn’t have to be a Chrysler vehicle.

Oh and about my concerns about security, look at what I found on the FAQ page on Autonet’s web site:

Your Wi-Fi connection is secured with WEP encryption, MAC address restriction or WAN port restriction. Also supports VPN pass-through.

I can’t believe that there are still companies that think WEP and MAC address filtering are security enhancements. Well at least they support VPN. And maybe that is eventually how it’s going to be. Wifi will be open, and we each have our own secure VPN connection. I could live with that!

I sent an email to the sales staff at Autonet to ask if they will be offering WPA security instead of WEP, we’ll see if she answers.

It’s an interesting idea and I am sure eventually we will all have wireless in our cars, but for now, it’s too new (and costly) for me to even think about.

Change Linksys Router Wireless Security to WPA2

November 9, 2008 by debbie T | Wireless

It appears that WPA (with TKIP) wireless security has been found to have a flaw.

After the dust settled and more information was shared, it was learned that the crack isn’t such a horrible risk, but that’s not to say that the flaw won’t escalate in the future. I changed my Linksys router wireless security settings to WPA2 and AES so I don’t have to worry about it.

EDIT (2008-11-22): The Security Now podcast has a show dedicated to this problem. It’s a very geeky episode, but very informative.

For more detailed information on configuring the security settings on a Linksys router, please view my older tutorial:
http://splashofstyle.com/archives/2007/04/13/configuring-linksys-router/

Navigate to router’s IP address

In your browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc), click or type the link http://192.168.1.1/ to open your router’s set up interface. This particular address is for Linksys routers. If you have another brand, you will need to go to the manufacturer’s web site to find their URL or consult the user manual.

I should stress that, if possible, you should be connected to the router via wire (Ethernet cable). Yes, it’s possible to connect to the router using your wireless connection, but if something goes wrong, it’s likely that you will lose your wireless connection. Make sure you have an Ethernet cable ready and waiting just in case, because if you lose your wireless connection, you will not be able to get back into the router to fix the problem.

Read the Rest of the Article

No Internet Access w/ Linksys WRT54GS Router

October 1, 2008 by debbie T | InternetWireless

What a day! It was a geeky day, and I’m glad that I figured out my problem (I think)

Last night, I went to bed before midnight, and the Internet (wifi) was working fine. This morning, it was extremely slow, and then non-existent. I phoned my husband who wakes up and leaves for work hours before me, and he said he was had the same problem when he tried to use the wireless connection this morning.

I tried unplugging both router (Linksys WRT54GS) and Comcast modem (the modem is on battery backup, so that was not very helpful) to restart, and I even bypassed the router, and connected directly to modem; it was the same…no connection.

I phoned Comcast, and she wouldn’t help unless my laptop was directly connected to the modem. Geez, what evah.

She told me how to reset the modem by hitting the small reset button at the back of the modem. Oh yeah, I forgot about that! I have to remember to use that button more often!

Anyway, after I restarted my laptop, voila, the internet was back….and the next part was kind of strange, but she said (paraphrasing) that my router might still be the problem, and that just because the connection worked now, it might not when I connect my router.

I disagreed and informed her that I didn’t think it had anything to do w/ the router, and I told her that I would be fine troubleshooting that on my own anyway.

And guess what, she jinxed me! Plugged in the router. What? No connection?! Oh no!

I tried everything! Unplugging router, restarting laptop, updating router firmware, resetting router to factory settings, etc. and nothing worked. I knew it couldn’t be wired cables, because I was connected to my Linksys router and could access the setup/admin through my browser, using both wired and wireless connections. And the cable running from the modem worked when plugged in directly to my laptop.

At this point, I started to blame Comcast, thinking it was some sort of conspiracy. Today, October 1st, was the first day that they began their new “bandwidth limit” so of course they messed up my router, right?

Anyway, I figured that I would just have to go out and purchase a new one. sigh. Came home w/ a new Linksys WRT54G2. Plugged that in, started it up, and nothing. No connection. What? Okay something must be wrong.

And then it dawned on me. Somewhere in my google travels today, trying to troubleshoot the problem, I read advice that each item needed to be restarted in a specific order. Modem first, router second, then computer.

Okay, let’s try one more time. I shut down the laptop, unplugged (electricity) the router, and then I reset the Comcast modem (with the little button on back). Right after that finished booting up, I plugged in the Linksys router. Then I restarted my laptop.

Oh joy!! I have internet. Both wired and wireless. Okay, so let’s find out if I can get my old router working instead. Yep, went through the whole process again, and yay, it worked.

I will return the new router, and keep my old one!

So, in summary, when troubleshooting your Comcast connection w/ a router, follow these steps:

  1. Shut down computer
  2. Unplug electric cord from the router
  3. Hit small reset button on back of Comcast modem
  4. After modem boots up, plug the router back into electricity
  5. When router boots up, restart computer

DNS Poisoning & How To Protect Yourself

August 7, 2008 by debbie T | ComputersInternetMac CornerWeb DesignWeb DevelopmentWirelessWordPress
UPDATE: I will be updating this article very shortly. I have new info on how to change the DNS settings for dialup as well as wired users. I will be adding a few screen shots and step by step instructions.

Now I am not one to panic about malware on the web. I have always prided myself on smart & safe browsing. But when I first heard about the new DNS Poisoning problem on the Nosillacast podcast a couple of weeks ago, it scared me. This could be a problem affecting everyone, no matter what safety precautions they take while surfing the Internet.

The subject is so complicated, and I won’t pretend to understand it fully, but I think I understand it enough to explain the situation to my family and friends, which is what I am trying to do with this blog article.

Okay, bottom line is there is a type of flaw that can be exploited by the bad guys, which enables them hijack vulnerable unpatched systems at your Internet Service Provider (Comcast for example) and change the path of traffic to their own web pages. So, if you are trying to go to amazon.com, your browser address bar will display “http://www.amazon.com” but you might be redirected to the hijacker’s site who has created a web site that looks very similar to Amazon. From there, it could be possible to install malware to your computer or to trick you into giving your personal info like credit cards or passwords.

This vulnerability can also affect your email, which is even scarier. A bad guy could intercept your email message(s) and insert a malware attachment or web site link. And you wouldn’t even know it was happening.

Are you vulnerable?

The Security Now podcast lists several links to sites that will “test” your site for the vulnerability:
http://www.grc.com/sn/notes-155.htm

I ran the test @ DoxPara and the following message appeared:
“Your ISP’s name server, xxxxx, has other protections above and beyond port randomization against the recently discovered DNS flaws. There is no reason to be concerned about the results seen below.”

I have heard that similar messages are appearing for other Comcast users. Since the information I am finding online concerning Comcast is vague and unclear, I am not 100% sure I trust Comcast to deal with this. So, I am taking matters into my own hands until I am sure.

I have read that other ISPs like Time Warner and AT&T have NOT patched, so there are still a lot of people out there that are in trouble!

Good News – Use Open DNS

The good news is, you can bypass your ISP’s DNS computers, and use another. Open DNS is a very secure and highly recommended DNS server that offers use of its servers for FREE! All you need to do is change a couple of settings in your router.

Not using a router? If your computer is attached directly to a high speed modem (ie DSL, Cable, satellite) then you are highly vulnerable to this flaw, as well as many other attacks.

Using a router keeps you safe behind a “hardware” firewall, and that firewall can thwart most attacks…so do yourself a favor and head to Staples, Walmart, Target, or Amazon and buy a Linksys, Netgear, or DLink router. It is an absolutely necessary tool in today’s times!

Change Your Router’s Settings

It is very easy to change your router settings to use Open DNS servers instead of your ISP’s.

Note: Don’t worry, you aren’t changing to a new Internet Service Provider, you will still be using the same ISP, it’s just the DNS computer information that you are changing.

There are detailed instructions on the Open DNS site, but I will walk through the instructions for changing a Linksys router.

First you need to access your router’s settings. Linksys router users can use this link: http://192.168.1.1/.

A password window will appear. The user name is “admin” and unless you previously changed the access password, the default password will be “admin”.

Important note: in the router settings, your password should be changed for extra security. To learn more about configuring your router for better security, please read my prior article.

Once you have logged into your router, you should be on the “Setup” page/tab.

Toward the bottom of the page, there is a setting called “Network Address
Server Settings (DHCP)”. Locate “Static DNS 1” and “Static DNS 2” and type in Open DNS’s server numbers, which are:

208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220

NOTE: If you have current DNS settings, then write them down just in case you need to revert back.

change dns servers on linksys router

Once the new DNS numbers have been entered, click the “Save Settings” button. And that is it!

Again, if you are not using a router, I cannot stress enough that you need to go out and buy one. They are usually about $50 and sometimes less. I recommend the Linksys WRT54G series routers, but DLink and Netgear also make good routers. Buy whichever is on sale that week; most will have detailed instructions explaining how to set security.

Okay, next, a word or two about Open DNS. Besides free use of their DNS servers, they also offer all sorts of parental controls and other security. I haven’t really delved into their offerings, but from what I gather, it’s all free. How can all this be free? Well to offset their costs, they have advertising revenues. Keep in mind, that whenever you type in a wrong address into your browser, Open DNS will take you to a custom search page, usually with your corrected web site URL on top.

For instance, if you type “ebay” instead of “ebay.com”, your browser will take you to a search page for “ebay”. Some have complained that this isn’t fair, wah wah wah…but who cares. They have to make money somehow. I don’t mind that they make a little on searches.

To learn more about Open DNS and all their offerings, check out the Typical Mac User podcast for a special 3 part series on all the details.

Personal Computer Patches

Besides your ISP computers, personal home computers, as well as business computers also need to be patched.

As far as I can tell, Microsoft issued a security patch a week or two ago, so make sure you are 100% up to date with all your Vista or XP critical patches.

As for Mac users, there was a patch issued, but it looks like it doesn’t fix everything, so when I am out from behind my router, I think I am still vulnerable if I connect to an open wifi spot. I am still a bit foggy on that issue, so more research is needed.

More Questions

Since I am still learning about this vulnerability, I still have additional questions that I haven’t found answers to.

For example, are cell phones that connect to the Internet still vulnerable? What about if you use a VPN (virtual private network)? What about web based email like gmail?

There is also a problem with routers being vulnerable too, but the issue isn’t as dire, because they would only be attacking your small network. Initially, I think routers will be okay, and the bigger networks like ISPs will be attacked first. I would like to find out more about the router issues, and whether firmware patches will be issued.

Hopefully I can find the answers online soon.

Helpful sites if you want to learn more about the DNS Flaw:

Using BitPim to Access Data on LG VX6100 Cellphone

July 22, 2007 by debbie T | Mac SoftwareWireless

I have a few saved camera photos on my LG VX6100 and since Verizon Wireless restricts access, I needed to figure out how to access it myself.

I ordered a cheap USB data cable on Amazon.com and downloaded BitPim – the free open source software for Macs, Windows and Linux that allows access to the file data on closed/restricted cell phones.

I am a Mac User, but I suspect the experience is fairly similar for Windows users, although it states in the help files that Windows users need drivers.

After download, I installed and launched BitPim. I highly recommend reading through the help tutorial, it will save time on figuring out what to do.

I attached the LG VX6100 to my laptop, after BitPim launched and that could be the reason it didn’t work initially. I quit the app, and started again. It didn’t recognize my phone again at start up, but somehow once I set the preferences again, it did recognize the phone.

BitPim settings

NOTE: If you just want to download your data, check the box next to “Block writing anything to the phone” – I unchecked this setting in order to upload ringtones.

Click the “Get data from phone” icon, and add a check next to the items to download.

I didn’t care about my contacts, call history, etc. All I wanted was my camera photos. I chose “wallpaper” and “ringtones” in the data download settings.

BitPim data download settings

I checked the log, and my data was downloading. For some reason my ringtones didn’t download, but a few sounds did download; all my camera photos downloaded, along with the default phone graphics.

Adding a Ringtone to the LG VX6100

I wanted to test the ability to upload a new ringtone to the VX6100, so I found a cute little “Bewitched Nose Wiggle” sound on my hard drive.

On the main workspace, right-click on Ringers, and choose “Add to Ringers”, navigate to your sound file, and select it – BitPim converts to .mp3.

Once it was added to the ringers folder, I chose the “Send Data to Phone” icon, and carefully chose the “add” radio button with a check box next to ringtones. I did not want to choose “Replace All” as I didn’t want to risk losing all my beloved default ringtones, especially since it was unable to download them.

It worked! I have a new ringtone on my cell phone! COOL!

Adding New Images to LG VX6100

Since the ringtone was so easy to add, I thought it would be cool to add one of my logos as my phone wallpaper. On the main BitPim workspace, right-click on Images and choose “Add to Images”, navigate to the image file. Choose how you want to format the image; I selected wallpaper, and I adjusted the crop boundaries to fit fully around my image.

Using the same process as the ringtone upload, I clicked the icon for “Send Data to Phone” and again, I carefully chose the “add” radio button along with a check box next to images.

It worked and now I have my web site logo on my cell phone!

LAST NOTES: BitPim cautions unplugging the phone from your computer if data is busy uploading or downloading. Be very careful with this. I don’t know if I was correct, but I quit the app before unplugging. This is not official software, so it could damage your phone irreparably, so proceed at your own risk!