Contemplating Jumping from Sprint

I was surfing around tonight digesting slashdot and came across an interesting use of a pay as you go phone to do gps. I thought to myself, my that is interesting and it gets the web for $.35 per day, has GPS and is java programmable. Then it dawned on me that I might like that phone, no camera and available for $40 with no contract.

Well my contract for phone runs out in June and I do think I am paying too much for my service as it is, I did some math and struggled with Sprint’s new customer system which made me create a stupid new id which I will forget and had ridiculous password restrictions too. Anyhow I couldn’t get their system to tell me how many minutes I was using a month (hmm I wonder why?). You would think that would be a no brainer, like something all customers would be interested in to see if we have the right plan. Aha!

I was able to download my last 4 months of data and I found out that I never NEVER used more than 500 minutes of service, even including my free nights and weekends. Okay, so how much does boost cost, and could I live with it?

$.20 per minute primetime (okay at my old rate [before tax and upcharges] it was $40) which would leave me with 200 primetime minutes to equal out to the same rate. Lets see I pay insurance which is $3, and get hit with various charges for maybe $10.

Okay boost is not utopia, I see that you have to charge every 90 days, rather that payments expire after 90 days. So there is some calculation blah blah blah, beyond that I am not seeing any drawbacks.

Reading reviews of the phone now, wondering if there is a tri-band model that would work in europe…

Questions for Boost: can I turn off the walkie talkie feature (I understand they recycle numbers and charge $1 per day for use); can I change the number of the phone (try it out till my contract runs up with sprint then activate my real number).

Edit–> Okay so it turns out Sprint owns boost, but it may turn out I am giving up less money, and it gives me incentive to look into the pay as you go model.


Grinded by Science


I was fortunate enough to attend Convergence of the Real and the Virtual conference over the weekend in World of Warcraft. There were some interesting features and some really good take aways.

The first day of the conference there was a real attempt to keep it structured. The organizers abandoned voice at some point (which AV expected they would based on our experience) and by the third day abandoned much of the heirarchical structure in order to take advantage of chat mechanics as well.

I need to say that the organizers did a terrific job both before and during, but especially in getting the word out. I think the event peaked at 125 people, though I cannot say I looked at that time. The guild welcoming and the level of participation before the event was astonishing.

The environment use during the event was a bit different, it focused entirely on the guild chat and as JP Bruneau points out it could have been enacted in its form over IRC, though it would not have caught as many peoples attention. That is to say that the overall mechanism was not new, but the environment was… for the conference.

For me the most interesting elements took place outside the conference. Here is a short list:

  1. The run up to it – Talking with guildies in the informal setting leading up to it was interesting, making connections with Extropia and a few others from Second Life and teaching World of Warcraft skills was wonderful. It is always useful to see the universe through the eyes of the noob again.
  2. Guildchat after the first session – this is where it got serious, or at least became possible. The discussion was not constrained by the sessions but open to our interests and we had an established a community around science. The ad hoc community lends itself easily to the sharing of knowledge, interest and networking. Sadly I think this is the gem from the conference and the most fragile gain. If people do not value it, it will evaporate
  3. For me I got a chance to play an old toon, and fell in love with it again, I made level 58 and went through the dark portal. What does this have to do with science? Not much but I will always associate this experience with the conference.

All in all this was a good experience, the key is to learn from the lessons and advance this work regardless of who is doing the work. I think that in preparing for our next conference there are some amazing take aways.