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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Really slow T-Mobile EDGE connection via Bluetooth


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I use my laptop tethered to my Samsung t809 cell phone via Bluetooth for almost all my Internet operations. I publish all my blogs on-the-go this way, and check my e-mail and do my billing. I love my EDGE connection as it gives me a very consistent and quick access to the web without the need for broadband.

In some areas, I get really bad connection speeds as the EDGE speeds aren't available. Instead, the cell phone goes back to the old GPRS standard -- about dial-up speeds if not better. This is still pretty decent as the connection isn't bogged down with delays.

In the past week though, my connection speeds have been awful! I didn't call T-Mobile as I figured I'd spend some time looking through the system to see what I might have done. I spent a few hours throughout the week going through all my settings, reinstalling my Bluetooth stack, even resetting my phone from scratch and testing and retesting -- still bad speeds. A call to T-Mobile was going to be coming, I figured, but I was going to wait a day.

The next morning I woke up and my laptop was dead -- I forgot my charger at my last stop. I picked up my PDA (with Bluetooth) and proceeded to jump on the web to check my e-mail. I read my e-mail quickly, and realized I was getting a great connection speed, leading me to realize that the problem was on my end, not T-Mobile's.

Later yesterday I picked up my laptop charger and immediately plugged it in and went to work finding out why my download speeds were so bad. I turned off all my processes, and the speed picked up immediately! Back to normal. It must be something running, I had guessed.

I rebooted the laptop, reconnected to the web via my Samsung and T-Mobile EDGE connection, and proceeded to turn off services in Windows one by one. I'd retest the connect speeds in between, but it wasn't until the absolute last program that I turned off that the problem because evident -- and all my fault. I had installed a BitTorrent application a few weeks early on my laptop (to use on my T1 at one of my offices). I didn't realize it was running very silently in the background.

I closed the app, and the web speeds were great. I reopened the app, and the speeds dropped immediately. I was only sharing 1 file with the world, but it is evident to me that the EDGE connection doesn't do simultaneous downloading and uploading well -- like a broadband connection would. This makes sense, actually, but it never occurred to me that it would affect the speeds that much -- especially since I wasn't downloading any information over BitTorrent.

Just a word of advice for those who complain about bad connection speeds -- check and recheck everything. If it still is slow, try a different computer or device to connect. You might be surprised that the slow connection might be happening because of software on your end.

Discuss this article here.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Using ring tones to block unwanted cell phone calls


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I don't have anything except my trusty Samsung t809 cell phone -- I relieved myself of the burden of having a landline at home. Although there are laws and regulations about calling cell phones, I still tend to get unwanted phone calls from companies who received my number due to me giving it to them. Usually it is not a nuisance other than getting phone calls when I really don't want to deal with them.

The Samsung t809 has let me optimize my phone so that I don't get bothered with these phone calls. What I've basically done is created my own silent ring tone -- a basic MP3 that is silence. You can download my file from this link and stick it on your phone's memory.

What I've done is use that silent ringtone for ALL calls -- it is my default ring tone. I've set my phone to only answer if I hit the answer button.

For calls I don't mind receiving at any time, I save the phone number as a telephone contact. Because the Samsung t809 cell phone lets you give all contacts (and groups) their own ring tone, I set the contact to either a group or a specific ringtone which has a sound to it.

When someone not in my contact list calls, the phone is silent playing the silence ringtone -- it doesn't even vibrate -- so I don't get bothered. When I check my phone I might have missed a call or two, and a quick check will show if it was someone I forgot to make a contact for (a quick 20 second fix) or someone who I didn't want to be bothered by.

If you use the t809 cell phone as your primary phone or only phone, you'll find this silence ring tone to your liking. Go ahead and give it a download and set it up as I described above and you'll find yourself more productive with less bothersome phone calls.

Feel free to discuss this article at my message forum linked here.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Samsung Cell Phone Ringtones and Volume


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An e-mail from a reader:

Just one question though. Anyway to make it louder? The volume key is set all the way to five but when I test it it is way to low? Any suggs?

The best way to make a ringtone louder is to take your MP3 or other file, import it into an audio editor, and adjust the volume there. I like to use a free audio editor called Audacity which is great for working with cellphone ring tones.

Not only can you crank the volume, you can also apply compression to the ringtone, so that it is louder overall without distortion.

I have been very busy as of late, but if you have a ringtone you'd like to maximize in volume and Audacity scares you, I'd be happy to adjust one or two overall for my new blog entry -- a full description of how to edit a ringtone in Audacity and how to make it louder.

Everyone is welcome to discuss this article here.

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