2013-12-15

Unlocking the Verizon iPhone 4S - MD278LL/A

Before you buy that unlocked Verizon iPhone 4S, you might want to read this.

After considerable research, I conclude that Verizon's "unlocking" program does not actually unlock the iPhone 4S.

Instead, Verizon's program seems to merely bless specific non-American 3rd party SIMs to be used with your iPhone.  It looks like American 3rd party SIMs from AT&T and T-Mobile USA are locked out forever, even after the Verizon "Unlock".

In fact, within Apple's "Wireless carrier support and features" knowledge base article ht1937, Apple itself says that Verizon "offers unlocking on certain iPhones, some with certain restrictions."

That's certainly ominous.  It reads like Verizon might be willing to unlock the deadbolt on your iPhone, but the security chain is still attached so only some SIMs can come through.  To me, that isn't an unlock.  That's a lock with exceptions.

Do you want to use an AT&T or T-MobileUSA SIM in your Verizon iPhone?  That's Verizon's choice.  And from everything I understand, Verizon will say "no" - they will not unlock the SIM for these carriers.  Your iPhone is still locked.

Even though its your phone.

And you paid for it in full.

And you've been a good customer for years.

And the device has all the technology it needs.

Maybe the best way out is to get yourself a brand new, inexpensive "contract" smartphone like this inexpensive Nokia on T-Mobile.   I use something like that as my travel/emergency phone.

2013-12-07

Do WIFI security cameras work? This EasyN one works for me!

I bought an inexpensive WIFI security camera - an "EasyN F-M166" - for my vacation home.

Does it work?  Well, yes it works very well!

Via a web browser on my Mac, I can view video, tilt-and-pan the camera, and control things like the infrared lighting.   It doesn't need any special software or plug-ins for my Mac, and I can even view the thing from my iPhone.

My EasyN WIFI cam, mounted upside-down on my porch ceiling

I have the camera mounted outside, in a protected area of my porch.  I'm not sure if it'll survive cold weather, but it still works OK even though it has been as cold as 15° F.  After a power failure it reconnects to WIFI just fine, so I don't have to worry too much about it getting disconnected from the Internet.

Via a web browser on my Mac, I can view video, tilt-and-pan the camera, and control things like the infrared lighting.   It doesn't need any special software for my Mac, and I can even view the thing from my iPhone.

Surveillance of a doorbell-pusher via the EasyN - as seen from my iPhone

With the camera's built-in web software, I've configured it to email me pictures every time "movement" is detected.  So I don't actually need a web browser to use the cam - I just get email with photos attached whenever anyone shows up at the house.  I -love- this feature.  Once in a while I'll get a moth or a bird or something, but that's the price you pay. Although the camera's web software is pretty ugly, it works very well; the software hasn't crashed yet despite running for the past 6+ months.

The camera sensor isn't nearly as good as a "real" camera, but I'm still very happy with it.    I haven't gotten the microphone to work on it, but I don't use it that way.

For under $50, it's a pretty darn good security camera.  You can find the EasyN F-M166 on Amazon.

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