Posts Tagged ‘cell phone’

Stoplights Are for Email

By Daddy Clay Thursday, February 11th, 2010

I forgot my phone.

My brain, spongiform with age and childrearing, is easily lulled into a fugue state. All it takes is a slight alteration of the daily routine, and I’m a drooling lobotomy patient.

I took the morning to work from home, using my family photos as a guinea pigs for research on backup software.  It was a slight deviation from the usual routine, but enough that my kids had to sprint to the bus stop (I got right to work and forgot about the little detail of getting the children to school). Read the rest of this entry »

Childproofing Your Phone: ATT Smart Limits for Wireless

By Daddy Clay Friday, July 31st, 2009

The phone in my son’s pocket chirped about every five seconds, and everyone giggled. His friend was pestering him with a comical stream of text messages. It was funny, but also troubling, and it sent me scrambling to find ways to appropriately monitor and limit my son’s cell phone use. What I discovered was ATT’s Smart Limits for Wireless.

Recently my wife got a Blackberry from her place of work. She rarely used her “family phone” even before she got the smartphone, but we decided about a year ago to upgrade to a rugged, shock and water resistant Samsung Rugby because we anticipated our son using the phone situationally. Now, with the arrival of the Blackberry, the Samsung has become Bubba’s phone.

My oldest is eleven, headed off to middle school, so now seems like a reasonable moment for him to have a phone, but having recently been burned by going over my minutes, I wanted restrictions on the phone use. Unlike Apple devices, the Samsung does not have onboard parental controls to limit web access or store purchases. After a few minutes exploring the ATT website I came across the “Smart Limits for Wireless” program.

The program costs $9.99 per month and offers parents the ability to limit the number of text messages, data usage and store purchases, to filter web content and to set time restrictions on outbound calls (with exemptions for approved numbers).

I configured Bubba’s phone as follows:

-200 texts per month (our plan limit)
-Data usage allowed: 0 kb/mo (aka internet off)
-Purchases in ATT store: $0/mo (aka store access denied)
-Outbound calls blocked after 9 on weeknights, 10:30 on weekends (with exemptions for our phones, an essential feature)
-I activated the internet filtering (redundant since he has no data allotment)

Curiously, the program does not allow for limiting inbound calls, so the phone still needs to be out of the child’s room at night. I wonder why this restriction is not available. Clearly they are able to exempt family contacts and 911. Why not apply this to inbound calls?

I look forward to reporting on how well this program helps my son to use his phone responsibly.

Looking to the future, I’m eligible to upgrade my first generation iPhone at the subsidized prices and will probably do so in the next six months. Should I pass along my old iPhone to my son? The expense of the data plan would be partially offset by canceling the Smart Limits program. I feel pretty comfortable with the built in parental controls on those devices, but an iPhone is a pretty powerful device to hand over to a pre-teen.

I guess we’ll keep an eye on how well he manages the Samsung over the next few months.

[update: Bubba called me this morning before dawn wondering why he couldn't use his phone to call his grandmother (he's on vacation -- I'm not). Guess I'll be setting those morning hours a little earlier. But it works as advertised.]

Down And Digital A Fan A Dad A Huge Geek

By Daddy Clay Monday, October 13th, 2008

I’m a web video guy, so I’m all for the Death of Media as We Know It. But even I have been shocked at the sign of the digital apocalypse that has recently risen over Austin, Texas. Our local cable provider, Time Warner, in a dispute with the local NBC affiliate KXAN, has dropped the network from their lineup.

“Don’t worry, dear customers,” they have been reassuring us, “all your favorite NBC shows are available online at NBC.com.” When the cable company starts telling you to watch shows on the computer, something is afoot. (Time Warner sells me my interweb, so they aren’t really shooting themselves in the foot.)

I could give a crap about NBC shows overall. I dabbled in Heroes for a while, but never on the broadcast channel. As with all my TV, I get it on DVD or on iTunes — usually one show at a time, all episodes in order, beginning to end. All I really want from my cable is to keep the kids amused from time to time, and to be available for live sports events. Uh, oh. Isn’t Sunday Night Football on NBC?

Because Bubba has been turned to the dark side by his New England relatives, I took Time Warner’s advice and tuned in the live webcast of Pats v Bolts on NBC.com. Overall, pretty disappointing. The audio stream was very clear — good to hear Madden stumbling around — but the video was extremely choppy. In the end the game played like a radio broadcast with an accompanying slide show. I watch web vid all the time, so I’m pretty sure that problem was not on my end.

The gimmick they are promoting on the SNF webcast is five simultaneous feeds from different camera angles, so you can play director in the truck and mash up your own sportscast. I’m not sure if this contributes to the video problems, but I would much prefer one clean stream to clicking between five choppy ones trying to get a decent look at the game. Too bad for the Pats, btw. Made the Cowboy’s ridiculous loss a little easier to take.

But my new media fan weekend doesn’t end there. Roll the tape back to Saturday. Biggest game of the year for the ‘Horns, so of course I’m planted in front of a hi-def, right? Wrong. Taking Baba to the airport, then scrambling to get Ri-ri to her soccer game. Catch most of the first half on the FM in the car, then on the sidelines, trying got be furtive about catching the live updates on the iPhone. Only got busted by daughter looking to sidelines for affirmation once.

Found out the ‘Horns were #1 from Twitter.

So, in order to balance my fandom and fatherhood over the weekend, I used FM radio, cable TV, webcast on computer, live web on mobile device, and Twitter. Whew.

Do you find technical solutions help you juggle enthusiasms and obligations? Which ones actually help?

Wristwatch Parent Or Cell Phone Parent Which Are You

By Daddy Clay Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

In our very unusual neighborhood, we have decided to afford our ten-year-old a good deal of independence and freedom. This is result is a result of our very informed decision to encourage free and imaginative play outside the home, building independent coping and social skills. Also, we are so raggedy-ass after work that we just want the kid to get the hell out of the house. Read the rest of this entry »