Mobile Phone SMS Spam Can be Expensive

I recently started receiving spam (unsolicited) text messages on my iPhone. I first received one on New Year's Eve, at 8:31 p.m., and then again at 5:00 a.m. a few days later (nice wakeup call... thanks).

These messages were all from some company named 'GagaCell', which didn't turn up many good search results (most were about Lady Gaga, and I'm pretty sure she doesn't harass people with text messages—just her music and lack of style.

GagaCell IQ Spam Text Message

After some online research, I discovered that many people, even after sending STOP to these shortcodes, end up with monthly charges on their cell phone bills. Since I watch my bill pretty closely, I noticed that, all the sudden, I was getting a $9.99 subscription from 'BULLROARE', a content provider I'd never heard of, from short code 31850 (The subscription name was 'IQ32CALL8668611606').

Review of St. Louis Area ISPs - Charter, AT&T, Clear

In my most recent article (over in the Articles section), I review the three main St. Louis Metro-area Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Charter Communications (Cable), AT&T (DSL), and Clear (Wireless).

St. Louis Area Internet Provider Review: Charter Cable, AT&T DSL, Clear 4G Wireless

Basically, by the end of the article, I'm still undecided as to which one is the best for me - for both price/performance ratio and reliability.

They're all not so hot in both regards, but I'm cheering for Clear—if they can get more cell towers up and running, I think they'll be a great contender!

Review: St. Louis area Internet providers (Charter Cable, AT&T DSL, Clear Wireless)

Charter, AT&T and Clear - Logos

For the past eight years, I've been bouncing back and forth from one ISP to another, trying to find one that actually feels worth the load of money I pay for it.

I've used a variety of services from both of the main St. Louis area providers (AT&T and Charter Communications), and am testing Clear wireless (a new game in town, but one that's been around in Chicago and other larger cities for a year or more). I've paid anywhere from $15/month to $90/month (for Internet service alone—I've never participated in the 'Charter Bundle,' 'Uverse' or any voice/data/video bundles).

I'm going to go through the reasons why I've tried all the different services, and what I've liked—and hated—about each. As a prelude, I am still not pleased with the performance I've received from any of the providers (at least, not for what I'm paying/have paid!).

AT&T 'High Speed' DSL

I've tried AT&T's DSL service in three different parts of St. Louis: North county, the Central West End, and Shrewsbury. In all three areas, I've encountered the same problem—an unreliable connection.

I've been through many support calls, and in all cases, when a technician is sent out, he says the line signal is perfect. Go figure. I've used a few different modems, some rather expensive, and they've all exhibited these problems.

AT&T's New Data Plans - No More Unlimited...

After hearing about today's AT&T data plan pricing changes, I had a pretty bad gut reaction. After thinking more about the new options, I don't quite not what to think...

The new data plans are as follows:

Data Plus - 200 MB of data for $15/month. Additional 200MB for another $15.
DataPro - 2GB of data for $25/month. Additional 1 GB of data for $10.
Tethering - Additional $20/month for DataPro customers.

I logged into the 'myAccount' section of AT&T's mobile website, and looked up my usage stats (there's a link to view past data usage stats), and they were relatively surprising:

iPhone Data Plan Usage - Jeff Geerling

How to Get Free or Cheaper WiFi Access at AT&T and Boingo Hotspots

WiFi LogoI was recently in Chicago, lamenting the fact that, to use the Boingo WiFi at the airport for a mere half hour, I'd need to pay $6.95; rather than pay this outrageous amount (since I already have an iPhone with Internet access, and the WiFi would be a convenience, I looked to Google for some help.

It is well documented that you can simply change your browser's "User-Agent" to use the 'Mobile Safari - iPhone' profile, and trick certain hotspot locations into giving you free access (this will work for any AT&T Wireless location, such as Starbucks, as long as you also have a valid iPhone number).

Get Cheaper Access on Boingo

To get an almost half-off discount on Boingo WiFi hotspots, you simply need to do three things:

Communicating on the Go - A Guide to Traveling and Staying in Touch

In late 2009, I spent about two and a half weeks in Rome, Italy, which is far removed from my hometown of St. Louis, MO. Italy, France, Asia, etc. – all these countries are outside of AT&T's nationwide coverage plans, and since I wasn't going to be traveling for many weeks, I decided to not sign up for AT&T's extremely expensive worldwide plans, but rather did the following, which allowed me to stay in touch with friends and family worldwide, with different tradeoffs for each:

Review: iPhone 3G

Jeff's Rating: 4/5

tl;dr: The iPhone 3G is a great upgrade from the 1st generation iPhone, but suffers from a sluggish processor and a limited lifespan.

This iPhone review will be expanded upon in the coming months, and will grow with time—if you've ever used an iPhone, you'll know why: the thing just keeps giving more and more surprises with more use!

The Hardware

I've used the first generation iPod Touch, the first generation iPhone, and various 'smartphone' models from other manufacturers, including Palm, RIM, etc. The iPhone/iPod have something that the other models are almost always severely lacking: gripability. My hand simply seems attracted to it! It's the same way with the old iPod mini (which was, in my opinion, the most holdable electronic device ever).