Tag Archives: cell phone


For the past several months I have been shopping cell phone providers and deals. My contract with Verizon expired so I’ve been a free agent. With Verizon, every time you sign a new contract you get a deal on a new phone, but what I wanted was a plan that includes web & email access. I’m on the go all the time so that would be pretty handy.

I shopped online quite a bit so when I finally went to my local Verizon rep I was pretty knowledgeable on what’s available, and I worked him for at least an hour. I already had a Treo that I was happy with so I wasn’t interested in a new phone. We looked at several plan options, all of them were more per month. I finally gave up, thinking that it wasn’t going to happen. Finally as I was walking away, he said “if you sign up for a data plan, I’ll give you a BlackBerry.” Um. Okay. I can work with that. I am paying more per month, but since I can work from anywhere its a wash for me. And, the phone is suh-weet.
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The Ringer

What’s problem with custom ringtones? The price, right? Who wants to pay a couple of dollars for a ringtone that they’ll be tired of within a couple of months? Custom ringtones are available through a bunch of different sources. Many of the ones that I’ve found have been a subscription thing, where you pay $2-$5 per month. That’s just crazy.

But you have to admit, they are kind of cool, right? I like them, but have never had one before because I don’t want to pay someone for a 15 second clip of a song that I already own. I’ve known that there are options for creating these yourself, but who has the time to jack with it?

I got a Treo phone for Christmas from my brother. I love that thing. Its great to have my calendar in my pocket, and I also like putting all of my contacts in one place (Outlook) for my computer and my phone. So all of that is pretty cool. The problem is, the Treo is a fairly popular phone. Probably once or twice per week I’ll hear my phone ring, only to realize that someone next to me has the same ring as me. I’ve never had that problem before now.

Custom ringtones are the answer. I had to figure this out. And I did. In about 15 minutes (if I had known it was this simple…). You need to do this. You like custom ringtones, and you’re tired of paying for them.

You’ll need to download two files, Audacity and lame (I laughed, too). Note that this version of lame is for Windows. If you’re on a Mac or *nix machine its available for you, too. Do a search and you’ll find it.

Unpack lame in a folder on your desktop. You’re done with that now, so install Audacity. Once its installed, open it up and click Edit > Preferences > File Formats > Find Library. Point it to the folder that you unpacked lame in. Set the bit rate to 128 and click OK. You now have all the tools you need.

Pick your favorite MP3, open it in Audacity and clip it down to 15 seconds. You get to pick which 15 seconds, so don’t sweat it. When you’re done, export it to MP3 (be sure to change the file name otherwise you’ll overwrite your original song).

Finally, get the new MP3 to your phone by text message, USB, Bluetooth, however. Then on your phone move it to the ringtone folder and you’re all set. Ba Da Boom you’re done. Free ringtones.

Next time you call me, I’ll be listening to Strong Bad. Yippee kai yo.

Personal Tech

For a year now I’ve been saying that I wouldn’t go back to using a non-PDA/phone. I’m eating those words now, and I’m glad.

I’ve been using my new phone, the LG VX8100, for a couple of weeks now, and I still love it. Monday I received the USB data cable that I ordered, and downloaded BitPim to transfer data to it. IT WORKED!!

I was a bit concerned as I was going through the installation of my phone, because WinXP was detecting it as an LG 5350. I didn’t have any choice other than to let it be installed as that phone.

I then downloaded and installed BitPim, which instantly recognized my phone! And not only that, but it recognized it as the VX8100! I used the BitPim import tool to bring all of my contacts over from Outlook, and that also worked flawlessly. I spent about 30 minutes cleaning my data (making sure its in the right format to be recognized by the phone), and then performed the sync.

Perfection, I now have all of my contacts in my new phone. And what’s more, as I store new contacts in either my phone or Outlook, I can easily sync between the two. There are only a couple more steps than before, but its worth it to me to have a smaller phone.

At this point, I’ve only used BitPim with one phone model, but it worked so well that I’d recommend it to anyone. Back up your phone’s contact list!

I did try using the calendar on my phone, and entering appointments with the numeric pad is a pain. So, last night I went out and bought a PalmOne (why do they keep changing their name?) Tungsten E2 PDA.

I’m back to carrying two devices with me, which I’m not particularly fond of. But, they both excel at their respective functions. My smartphone was functional enough that it worked well for me for a year, but I had to give up a couple of applications that I love. Now I get to use everything I want and more. Plus, they’re both bluetooth enabled, so I’m hoping that I can get them to connect with one another. My understanding is that Verizon limits the bluetooth compatibility of their phones, so at the moment I don’t know if that’ll be possible, but I’m going to try.

Oh, and I also have memory cards for both, so I can load and listen to MP3’s on either of them. Maybe I don’t need an iPod after all.

I bought a bluetooth headset, a Motorola HS820, but the other party can’t hear me clearly, and their voice echoes back to them (???). I don’t know what that’s about. I may try a different model headset sometime soon, but for now I’m tired of spending money.