Category Archives: How To

A good deal on a Cingular 2125 Cell Phone

JLP was recently bragging about the great deal on the Motorola V557 but I think I’ve got him beat. We both use the same carrier, so let me tell you about my experience today.

I know I’ve touted the excellent benefits of my employer before, but we get a litle discount for Cingular equipment and service. My wife decided she was happy with what I got her for Valentine’s day and wanted to reciprocate it, and I’ve always been nagging about how much we need a good camera phone. I was undecided between the Motorola Razr and the Cingular 2125. I’ve never known of any Cingular brand products, and it turns out the Cingular 2125 is a HTC Faraday rebranded to Cingular, so I was a little skeptical.

I wanted something with a camera and with Bluetooth, those were my major requirements. The Cingular 2125 was an immediate interest because it runs Windows CE 5 and has the other mandatory features. Even better, it’s not a flip phone, which I *hate* (ever wonder why flip phones didn’t catch on for regular analog/land lines or in business?! probably never…but why are they so popular for cell phones?! it’s MARKETING, and I’m sure of it! Some bozo said “we can sell more phones if we put at least one movable part on them that’s guaranteed to break, and we’ll double our chances if we put an antenna on it too”).

I talked to a friend at work today who got the Cingular 2125 about a month ago, and he told me about the awesome service he got through our company, so I thought I’d give them a try. The first time I called I was quoted $269 for the phone, minus $50 if I got an unlimited data plan, which she told me was $45 dollars. I thought that was kind of expensive, because through the web site it said it was $299 minus a $100 mail in rebate. I let her go and talked to my friend again and he said that she didn’t know what she was talking about when it came to the data, she was referring to a PDA plan (one for the Treo/Research In Motion/RIM/Blackberry). I called back and tried again to order, but this time was told that she wouldn’t sell to me because my personal account wasn’t linked with the business account yet. So I said, well, someone else will, so I called back, and *THIS TIME* I got it for $169. Yes, a $300 smart phone with a 1.3mp camera, a monstrous screen, a leather case, a usb cable, bluetooth support, and an included 64mb mini SD card for $169.

It took me 3 calls and a little hold time, but what a DEAL! I think the biggest lesson here is if you don’t like what you’re hearing from someone at Cingular, try again :) It appears to be a total crap shoot, and your odds are probably better than any table in Las Vegas. I owe a big thanks to my wife for the phone, which I expect to get Monday.

Safe Money

How much money do you think you should set aside? Have you really ever considered the amount of cash you should have readily available for a “rainy day”? I’m not money that you’re keeping for retirement. I’m not referring to money that’s accumulating for some other purpose, such as education, a home, a down payment on a car. There’s other emergencies. What should you have set aside for when the refrigerator breaks? When the septic tank backs up? What would it cost to be unemployed for a few months should your office burn down or get destroyed by a toronado? I’ve seen some people suggest six times your monthly expenses. I’ve heard others recommend at least a year. I’ve also been told to look for at least half of my yearly income. If I had half of my yearly income sitting in an account somewhere, I’d probably own my own home instead. Considering at this point, I have none, I’m setting my first goal to be 1 month’s expenses. Is a money market fund or a high yield savings (like ING, CapitalOne, Emigrant, etc) the best place to start this savings? Should I go with my credit union instead?

How to Use Google To Prevent Being Scammed

When seeking the best price for a product or service, it may be necessary to try a new provider. With so many online purchases occurring every second, it’s often scary to purchase from a new e-tailer for the first time. Fortunately, there’s the regular services like BizRate, ePinions, ShopZilla, and Froogle. Sometimes it’s not as easy as it seems. and it may require more research into the vendor’s practices.

Take for example, today, I read an amusing, yet sad, story of a man who was scammed by a camera store.

The best part of the article was the first comment. A reader suggested using google to research vendors if it’s your first time purchasing. They suggested using Company Name +scam as your search criteria. For example, had the author of the article done the same search, he would have found something like these results: PriceRitePhoto +scam.

The Lazy Way To Success

Even though I got a big raise and it’s nice to increase my income, I’m still looking for that awesome way of making income, with little or no effort. Something that doesn’t take 8-10 hours of my day, to provide a comfortable income would be ideal. It’s important to find other people who have been able to achieve our goals, and that’s why I’m going to share about a web site where I can learn a thing or two. Fred, the author of “The Lazy Way To Success” has started two businesses, and writes on how to start a business with no business experience. Owning a business is a very popular way of producing passive income, and many are very successful at doing it. I think it’s one of the methods I’ll use in the future.

Improving Productivity while using David Allen’s getting Things Done and Outlook 2003

Okay, part of being successful is being productive. We’ve all got to be productive in order to get ahead. Even that lucky guy with the winning lottery ticket has to be productive so he can maintain his new found wealth, or it will leave him.

This quest for financial freedom has lead me along interesting learning paths. One of the most helpful “walks” was an honest desire to improve my organization skills and simultaneously put an END to my horrible procrastination habits. I linked to a web page that had a forum with some good personal habit suggestions, and someone there mentioned David Allen and his Getting Things Done. I researched more and read some of his works and heard an audio cassette, and this guy is pretty amazing. He works a single system [while of course the system has a few builtin "moving parts"] that he uses consistently and it allows him to take single steps to achieve a goal, organize all of his projects on tasks and context, and ease the stress of and reduce the amount of information that is weighing in on his head.

If you’re not already familiar with Getting Things Done, do yourself a favor and obtain it now. Make it a priority. He uses Outlook and has some excellent practices that really help simplify things and makes Microsoft’s Outlook a whole lot more functional for a professional. However, I’m going to skip explaining his system, assuming you’re already familiar with it. I’ve been able to expand on that system and make things work a little better for me, thanks to a new feature in Outlook 2003.

Based upon his concept of “one-inbox” webmail seems like such a likely candidate as a tool for the normal person who can access it at home, a coffee shop, quite frequently work, friends, without having to be tied to a hard drive. Unfortunately, not every webmail interface chimes right along with Outlook, but if you demand an IMAP (instead of POP3) account from your email provider, you can save your mail folders and messages on your providers server instead of having to download them all the time. It also allows you to mange it once. Having to do it once is a real time saver. David’s not afraid of having too many folders, and even goes so far as to require you create some. He suggests some that everyone should have, including an !Action and a !Waiting and these are part of his system. I found it unwieldy to try and drag messages and quickly get back to the Inbox, the !Action, and the !Waiting. If I had to scroll in order to click on them, that means they’re off my screen and are not visible! Now with Outlook 2003, I can use the new Favorite Folders feature. I’m able to drag the folders to the Favorites Folders area and it creates a shortcut to it. Thankfully, one click access to the folder I need, and what an improvement over the 2000/XP shortcut bar. As a bonus, it even shows how many new messages the folder contains.

Secondly, I’ll need a way to track my projects. I’ve found that sending myself a message is an effective way. It gets it in my inbox, and then I can deal with it when appropriate. As the project progresses, I get more and more notes on the subject, and I can simply reply to myself to keep a journal of the notes I’ve created. It also has an added benefit of instant date/time stamp. Even better, it integrates into an existing working system for me. Nothing is as natural as replying to a message. It is also Rich Text Format compatible. I can save and store attachments as needed.