Meeting Notes - 13 May 2014

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Meeting Notes - 13 May 2014

Post by bdahm on Thu May 22, 2014 7:12 pm

It was good to hear the sound of the “squawker” again to open the meeting. It was music to my ears, though probably not to anyone else’s. 

Chris Fesses Up
For something like 130+ days Chis has played the popular iPad game, Clash of Clans, without resorting to paying any money for the privilege. It was a gallant fight and one that cost time and effort to ward off attacks and launch his own. But, alas, it has become too much for him and so he announced that he has indeed plunked down 1,000 baht to buy some jewels, which would help advance his game and save him time. He did not say whether he was still sticking to his self-imposed prohibition to no more than an hour a day of play, but I suspect with this new loot, he will be well positioned in that regard.

StraightTalk Voice/Data Plan in the US
Traveling to the US is always a bit dicey because on short visits it’s hard to secure a pay-as-you-go voice/data plan. All the carriers want to sign you up for a contract. For several years now I have been using a pay-as-you-go plan from StraightTalk on my iPhone. They offer unlimited voice, text, and data for $45/month using either the AT&T or T-Mobile networks. They are an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) which means they buy networking services from other carriers and resell them under their own brand. 

If you have an unlocked smartphone as all of us do, this is quite easy and convenient. Since one has to renew on a monthly basis, when you leave the US to return to Thailand, you can just let the service lapse and start all over when you come back the next time. Probably the only drawback with this approach is that you get a new phone number every time, but I don’t use voice a lot and can easily give my phone number to the few people who might call me. 

Until now StraightTalk only had the standard SIM and micro SIM and not the newer nano SIM that the iphone 5 and 5S uses. This is why I have held on to my iPhone 4, because of the SIM. Well, just about a month ago StraightTalk came out with a package that includes the nano SIM so I was good to go on this last trip. The SIM costs you an extra $15, so your total price for the first month is about $60. You can purchase the SIM package through the StraightTalk BYOP (Bring Your Own Phone) website or you can buy it at any Walmart SuperCenter.  Here’s the link.

There’s little doubt that the smartphone we have in our pocket can be harnessed to monitor our health and provide us and our doctors timely information. The so-called “iWatch”, of which there are several already on the market, is just beginning to show what it can do besides providing mundane things like time, temp, email and notifications. Here’s a video about what is already happening with a eye of what could happen in the future.

Self-Driving Car Tackles City Streets
Google has been developing it’s self-driving car technology for a number of years now and it is being constantly being refined in light of real-world scenarios. Here’s a look at one of those scenarios. Though not ready for prime-time yet, the Google self-driving car has done well in its tests so far. In fact, the only accident reported was when a driver was at the controls and I believe the car was struck from behind.

So, that’s a wrap for this week. See you next week.



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