Alan Wallace's Blog

Thoughts… Rants… Rave's – mostly on Tech

The most exciting TV product @ CES 2011 was not a 3D TV

So while at CES surrounded by a sea of 3D TV’s and frankly I don’t get it – 3D TV bores me. But there is a TV technology that I find truly revolutionary and while it’s been around for a couple of years what I have since learned is what I have been missing.

Slingbox ( allows you to connect your TV and other media sources for streaming online and to other applications for iOS platforms as well as the Android.

I’m a bit of a TV junkie, news mostly, but I have 3 DirecTV units – living room, bedroom and home office and also run a whole home network for DirecTV. I also connected one of my old school AppleTV units. My internet is provided via DSL and is supposed to be the 20Mbps package. My cellphone is a DroidX on the Verizon Network and normally see’s Verizon’s 3G network. My IPad accesses online by WiFi only. I tested on PC’s and Mac both wired and wireless as well as my IPad and Droid. Connections included Home, Starbucks and GoGo InFlight and I have been actively using for 2 weeks.

First, I’m a former broadcaster and I also have worked in the streaming industry as well (Live365) so I know how hard it is to stream audio and video and that the biggest issues all streamers have is bandwidth. So in part SlingBox is either an amazing experience or not depending on the connection experience but those are the same issues you would experience with Hulu, Netflix or other video streaming solutions. Given that, I have been nothing less than blown away with how completely cool SlingBox is!

With SlingBox you purchase the software and hardware this is a one-time fee. This allows you all of your content with no additional fee. So if it’s on your cable or satellite box it’s there, if it’s in your iTunes collection it’s there, if it’s the camera you connect to see what the kids are doing with the sitter – well, it’s there too.

The only places I have had trouble getting optimized performance has been while on a plane using GoGo Inflight for bandwidth reasons or in trying to view on my IPad in HD via a hotspot connection using my DroidX – but standard worked fine. But at home or Starbucks my Laptop or IPad look great and the Droid App is very solid – sure the screen is smaller but the experience is delivered well.

It’s rare when I can’t find a way to improve a product but this is one of those issues. The only thing slowing SlingBox down is the connection speed and this is up to your ISP. Certainly upload speed is important as well as download but SlingBox was easy to setup, is easy to use and it performs amazingly well.

Filed under: Must Have Tech Gadgets

Verizon Please Let me remove CityID

I don’t think I’m asking too much.  I spent a great deal on my DroidX along with accessories.  It is by far my favorite phone but  Crapware is Crapware whether its on the PC or infultrating my mobile device and that is not beneficial to anyone.

That said, I love promoting software via bundling and have found some great applications this way.  My DroidX came bundled with some apps that I’m not using but may wish to someday and in fact I was using CityID till I received the alert that  my trial was up and that I would be charged $2.00 per month if I wanted to keep using it.  Now knowing where someone is calling from is nice but worth $24.00 a year – not for me.  Even the software maker talks about how this app even with “modest adoption rates in the of 8-10% range have a meaningful bottom-line impact” – you too can see how Verizon and others can make millions this way by also looking at their “Revenue Calculator” @ but what I don’t get is why Verizon does not realize that ticking off your user base is a much greater cost than benefit.

I have asked Verizon and Cequint how to remove this.  Verizon has said that they are working on a response – this is the response that I received from Cequint.


Dear Mr. Wallace:

 Thank you for taking the time to contact us.  Because City ID is one of the preinstalled applications on the Droid X, there are no install or uninstall options (as is currently the case with all applications that are preinstalled on the Android operating system).

At the end of the 15-day free trial, a trial expired message appears to inform you the trial has expired.  This expiration screen will ask if you would like to subscribe to City ID with the options “Yes,” “No,” or “Remind Me Later.”  Selecting “No” on the touch screen will disable City ID, and the city and state of calls will no longer be displayed.

Thank you for your message and feedback.


The Cequint Team

Cequint Incorporated
1011 Western Avenue | Suite 800
Seattle | WA | 98104

Confidential Information – this email and any and all attachments to it are Cequint’s confidential information and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. Any unauthorized disclosure or forwarding of this email or any files transmitted with it constitutes a breach of your confidentiality obligations to Cequint. If you have received this email in error, please notify the sender, delete this email from your system and do not disseminate, distribute or copy this email or the files attached to it.  Please treat all documents shared from Cequint as confidential.


So according to Cequint – they don’t seem to care. But as a user – I sure do – and I’m sure if other users have questions that perhaps those questions should also be asked of Cequint’s support.

I really like the DroidX and I have been with Verizon for years but in all those years I have never had them force an application on my phone that I could not remove.  I’m all for the phone introducing me to apps that I may like and wish to purchase – all I ask is that as the person who purchased the phone and pays for a family plan with data and hotspot access is that you let me remove apps that are not crucial and that I don’t want.

I seem to remember the “EU” suing Microsoft over IE not being able to be removed and I certainly think IE is more crucial to Windows than City ID is to the Android Operating System.  Maybe I need to “Get Jesse” – but is it really too much to ask both Verizon and Cequint to do the right thing?

Filed under: Cell Phones, Must Have Tech Gadgets, , , , , , , , , , ,

Verizon – Love my Droid Hate the Forcedware

Windows users are used to this – we buy our dream machine and once we boot it for the first time we see all the OEM’d software that we sometimes keep, sometimes leave but in many cases remove.  In fact applications have been built to do just this such as the much user beloved PC Decrapifier.  I understand somehow this is supposed to reduce the cost of my computer but so are commercials before movies and unlike technology movies are not getting cheaper.

Now a couple of weeks ago I blogged about my new DroidX – this is beautiful hardware and just what Verizon needed (as they still can’t seem to get Apple to do the right thing and bring a great phone to the best carrier) so while I was getting tired of waiting I decided the Droid was the jump I was ready to take. 

I have been pleasantly surprised that I could check more than one exchange account but surprised that my DroidX would not show exchange linked pictures of people calling – opting only for pictures on Facebook or Twitter – seriously – Why?  Please fix this in an update.  But so far until now all I have thought has been very positive.

But today I learned that VZW bundled apps that I cannot remove from my Droid – so while I’m still in my honeymoon phaze with the Droid, I have also decided that  I’m presenting my first ever “WTF AWARD” to Verizon for this botched bundle.

To me Forcedware ™ is crapware that cannot be removed by the user.  Specifically, I’m would like to remove the App called “CITY ID.”  Verizon included City ID with my new Droid Verizon (In a 2008 announcement Press Release – “Verizon Wireless customers purchasing the Voyager will receive a complimentary 15-day trial of the City ID application beginning with their first incoming call. Customers may subscribe to City ID for $1.99 monthly access per line added to their monthly plan.”  This is the same deal that my DroidX has been stuck with.

For the first time I have an application on my phone that is really not important yet impossible to remove.  Now I understand some apps need to be there – and I don’t even mind the account management tool from Verizon being pre-loaded and not removable – but when an application times out after 15 days and then if I want to use it you are going to charge me about 2.00 per month – than I should be able to uninstall it.  Apparently I’m not alone on this desire (

I called Verizon support and they thought initially they could help me – they could not and I went back to the store where I purchased my phone and they had apparently heard my thoughts several times today alone – I’m guessing from more people who like me bought this phone on launch day.  I wonder how many of them thought I still have 15 more days to return it?

Verizon, you are a good company, I like your products and I have no real issues with the pricing.  Why now are you making me think twice?  Why are you forcing an icon on my phone for an app I won’t use.  I’m not sorry you put it there to try out – but if I decide I don’t want it – why are you locking it and not allowing it to be removed – does this really show that the customer comes first?  If I like it – I will use it and you and the software developer will both benefit – if I want to remove it please let me.

No one benefits by forcedware.

Can someone at Verizon, Motorola, Google or Cequint please do the right thing and let your users have a way to uninstall?

Filed under: Cell Phones, Must Have Tech Gadgets, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

DroidX – First Thoughts

I’m normally just ok with a new phone – happy I have something newer and hopeful that I’m not ready to give it back in the first 30 days but usually after the first 5 minutes I have figured out everything that I thought was cool and am already bored.

Today I purchased a new DroidX.  I found some nice bundles at Verizon today that helped me get better prices and thought that today was the best organized I have seen Verizon on a phone launch.  I cannot remember a previous time when I could get the accessories I needed on the same day but today was certainly the exception that should be the rule and the accessories were really cool.

Likes and Product Suggestions:
I have missed docking stations and for the DroidX there are docking stations for home and the car – I may get another one or two for the home as I like them.  I also got the rubber case for the DroidX but wish that it would still fit in either docking station when I put the protective case on – I want to use the great docking stations – but also want to do what I can to protect the phone for when I accidently drop it.

Not sure if it will replace my car’s GPS but I love how I can plug the phone into my car’s AUX jack and listen to radio stations via the IHEART app – and in fact not only the audio quality for streaming but the built in internal FM radio sounds better than the FM Radio in my Nissan.  I would like to take this time to say to all of those who doubted me when I said at the Country Radio Seminar in 2001 that Internet Radio would be in the car within 10 years – that I was right and have a year to go on that prediction (remind me to email David Lawrence)

I’m experimenting with all of the new apps and enjoying what I’m seeing so far.  I’m not sure what will happen with the Android Software Push in the near future but here that it will have enhancements for Microsoft’s Exchange ™.  I’m looking forward to seeing what will be coming but at the top of my request list – is help the phone to be able to read more than one Exchange account as I access at least two exchange environments.

Lastly it makes really clear phone calls – I almost forgot this was a phone too.

Filed under: Cell Phones, Must Have Tech Gadgets, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’m buying the DroidX on the 15th

I have been a loyal Windows Mobile user for years.  I have strayed occasionally to RIM and would have loved to have switched to the iPhone but could not comprehend switching from Verizon but as a loyal Windows Mobile User I have felt like I was missing out.  I was there from day one version 1 and still with 6.5 and a plethora of disconnected smartphones from Samsung to the Palm Treo as well as my current HTC and I am just not going to wait for Windows Series 7 anymore.  I had hoped that Apple would grace us with good news for Verizon but if Google is willing to step up – so am I.

I had a chance to try out the Google Nexus for 30 days on T-Mobile and the phone was so cool I almost forgot it was on T-Mobile but the apps were amazing and nothing like I have ever seen on a Windows Mobile device.  I had stayed with these phones mostly because I’m an Exchange user which in looking back is RIM actually offers more features than Microsoft as it’s the device that would allow me to run more than one exchange account.  Odd since MS invented Exchange and Windows Mobile and Outlook.

So Microsoft is now working on version 7 of its phone OS but just killed its KIN with only a few weeks release – so again – what is it I’m waiting for on Win Series 7?  What I find really interesting is how cool the IPhone was on Version 1 – how cool the Google Nexus was on Version 1 – the Microsoft Phone on Version 7 may be cool but I have been disappointed so many times and I’m not ready for this again.  I know I’m not switching to Zune so if Win Series 7 is supposed to be more like a Zune – it’s not a selling point for me.

So while I wish the DroidX had a keyboard like its predecessor – I’m still going to get it and hear that the screen and camera are more Incredible – than the HTC Incredible.

Filed under: Cell Phones, Must Have Tech Gadgets, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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