I know it's easy to just go with what you're given when you sign up for your internet service. Your internet service provider (ISP) , be it CableOne, AT&T, Comcast, or another, will offer you that free email account, and it can be tempting to just go with it. However, that's a mistake you, just like millions before you, will eventually regret.
You will swap ISPs at some point. That is a fact. As long as you're using your ISP's email address, you've tied yourself to that ISP unless you're willing to go through the hassle of changing your email address and telling everyone you know. It is a big hassle and can be frustrating enough to just stay with an ISP, even if they're overcharging you for slower speeds. CableOne's 50mbps service is now available in our area and I can't help but think of all the people who are stuck on AT&T's DSL service that will likely never see speeds that high. To swap they will have a nice bit of work on their hands. Just think of the eBills, social network profiles, online stores, friends, family, and other places you'll need to update your email address. Not fun.
Get an email address from one of the big three. Yahoo, Windows Live, or Google Gmail. Personally, I can't stand the slow, clunky looking, advertising filled, webmail interfaces of Yahoo and Microsoft. I'm a Google Gmail user through and through and I can't recommend it high enough. It works with Outlook or Windows Live Mail if you prefer that method of getting your email, it's very fast, and the spam filter is unmatched from any other provider I've seen.
Please take this next bit as good all around advice and not an insult. Do not even think of getting an aol.com address. It makes you look very out of touch when you email a potential employer, clients, or anyone that might expect you to be even slightly computer savvy from an @aol.com address. If you have one, go ahead and go through the hassle of switching to Gmail right now. At least get one and begin the process slowly.
At my website design company, WideNet Consulting, we even use Google's Gmail For Business product for nearly all 300 of our clients. So when I say I trust the service and push it, I mean it. Even my firstname.lastname@example.org uses Google Apps to power it.
Google has just launched a pretty clever marketing ploy asking people to help their friends make the switch away from bad email providers. You can watch the video below and visit EmailIntervention.com, a simple site where Gmail users can send intervention letters to convince their friends to switch. It's straightforward and points out the incredible features of Gmail.
The choice is yours of course and I have many friends with Yahoo and Live addresses that seem to be perfectly happy with them. I guess this could be an instance of to each their own, but I like to think after all I've looked at I am a pretty good judge of what's best in tech, and I say, go Gmail.
You know how in the article about streaming I wrote yesterday I mentioned that missing live sporting events was the biggest drawback to cutting the cord on your satellite or cable subscription? Well today ESPN announced ESPN 2.0 for Xbox 360 Live via the Gizmodo blog. There's a demo video of the ESPN App to watch on Gizmodo.
"You officially have a reason to watch ESPN on your Xbox 360 come this fall - ESPN 2.0 is pretty awesome. Watch multiple games in HD. Pause one while keeping the other going. Stats! So many stats. And oh lord, the mini-guide with live thumbs and scores.
Confession: The only sport I give even the slightest bit about is college football. Fortunately for me, ESPN on Xbox 360 is re-launching August 25 with college football in mind."
August 25th is the day and personally, I can't wait to consume my favorite sport in my favorite way. I just got my Xbox 360 about a month ago and it's worth it's weight in gold to me. It's perhaps the perfect option to play Netflix and Hulu if you already have one instead of buying the Roku box I mentioned previously. Stats, Pausing, Split Screens, Mini Guide, and oh so much more goodness. If you don't have an Xbox 360 be jealous. Be very jealous.
This one is super simple. On August 25th go and download the free ESPN 2.0 app onto your Xbox 360 and enjoy the mess out of college football and all other sports in the coming days.
Any Time. Any Where. Any Content. That is how I want to consume my TV shows and movies. With the plethora of online services that exist, there's hardly any reason to keep your cable or satellite subscription. They're filled with endless commercials that you are either forced to watch or fast-forward through, and it's only on when it's on. The DVR has made this experience a little more "Any Time" than it used to be, but it is still very frustrating when you want to watch your favorite episode of Big Bang Theory.
For many years now I've been hacking computers together to pull off what Netflix, Hulu, and the like now serve you with very little effort on your part. If your TV doesn't already have these services built in, you can pick up a Roku 2 XD box from $59 - $99 and have Netflix, Hulu and most other services on your TV pronto. All of the services run through your internet connection and have been structured specifically to be very easy to use from the comfort of your couch. See a full list of services on the Roku.
Another plus is that these services are breaking new ground all the time. According to Hollywood Reporter, Netflix will soon announce they have penned a streaming deal with DreamWorks Animation which will bring a ton of new content to the service. Netflix is no stranger to gaining and losing content providers which can be a bit frustrating at times if your favorite movie disappears from the service. However, HuluPlus offers you another source of content which, combined with Netflix, should satisfy your movie and TV show needs.
The only things lacking dwell in the realm of live TV. The available live sporting events and news updates are a bit slim, but they are available at times. You could always pick a pair of "digital rabbit ears" and get most of the local channels free if they're important to you. If not, this is still a small price to pay for a family who rarely consumes live events when the benefit is the reduction of your monthly bill from $70 to $15.
Pick up a Roku 2 XD box if you have any interest at all and give the services a chance through their free trials. It's super easy, and once you see how great having all of this content on demand is, you'll likely never go back. Especially if you have young children.
Last week Verizon Wireless flipped the switch on for their 4G LTE phone service in 28 new markets around the nation. Most people around Calhoun County are just getting over the excitement of AT&T finally bringing 3G to our area only now to find out that we're behind again.
What is 4G? Well it depends on who you're asking and when. The most basic of answers is that 4G is the next generation of data speed available for your wireless devices. The more complicated answer is that AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon all claim to have 4G and they're all talking about something different. If anyone is telling the truth however, it's Verizon. LTE (Long Term Evolution) is the most common type of true 4G networks being produced by the big 4 (soon likely to be the big 3 when AT&T buys T-Mobile) and that's what Verizon is rolling out. HSPA is what the others are claiming is 4G which is really just slightly faster 3G. So please don't get confused when buying your new phone or Mifi device when they start spouting on about 4G. We don't have it in Calhoun County and you don't need it right now. Currently the closest Verizon 4G areas are: