Today, for reasons that I assure you were completely justified, I ended up driving through the wilds if Isle of Wight County when my van let out a loud squeal and a thump. Through the rear view mirror I noted something that appeared to have fallen from the van. It looked like...a belt.
I checked the steering and sure enough it was the serpentine belt which runs the AC, alternator, power assist for the breaks, power steering, fan, and water pump. I was about 20 miles from my mechanic and was in the woods and going the wrong way. The 1998 Dodge Ram Van is not known for engine accessibility. I had to change that serpentine belt before some years ago and it took me 4 hours to not get it done. I eventually had called my dad (who was local at the time) and it took the two of us almost two hours to thread all the spools. Having endured that hell, I determined that this was a job for someone with a lift and proper tools. But I was still too much of a cheapskate to call a towtruck.
So, I had to make a U-turn with no power steering and start heading back to Portsmouth. However, with the water pump and fan out I had to stop every 5-7 miles or so to let the vehicle cool, which took 30-40 minutes each time, so it took almost 3 hours to make the 30 minute trip. Parallel parking with no power steering was an adventure too. Finally, the mechanic's courtesy van was not available because they were shorthanded, so I walked home which was 10 clicks away.
It does not look like I'm going to work tomorrow.
It turns out that the alternator bearing seized up. So. New alternator.
Its running fine now, as it should after being pampered with nearly 700 dollars.
Unless.... Uberlyft, if you can afford it.
Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Tue Nov 6 17:03:01 2018 (LZ7Bg)
Cost isn't technically the issue though. I've been looking at downgrading to a flip-phone or smartwatch for some time now. However I now have a reason to upgrade from my Blackberry to a real smartphone...it's required for Uber.
Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Tue Nov 6 19:55:28 2018 (gxCG3)
As far as cost goes you can realize a huge amount of value by avoiding the headline flagship phones.
A Galaxy S9 costs, what, $900 or so right now? I ordered a Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S from Gearbest a couple weeks ago for $400. This is an all-four-carriers Snapdragon 845 with a 6" screen and 6GB of RAM: basically the same specs as an S9, but at half the price, and it works on Sprint/Verizon! (It also is a dual-sim which is pretty rare in the US.)
If you don't need that much power, the Motorola G series (just to pick one example) give you most of the same power at a fraction of the price--I got a G5S Plus on sale a while back for about $200, or $50 or so less than it normally goes for. A phone like that will pretty much do anything but the most GPU-intensive 3D games.
Posted by: Rick C at Tue Nov 6 21:08:15 2018 (Iwkd4)
I have a Moto G4 Play. Solid and reliable, but the camera is pretty bad. That's the bottom of the Moto G line though and two generations behind. Any current model will be a lot better.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tue Nov 6 22:54:47 2018 (PiXy!)
I found the camera on the G5+/G5S+ to be pretty nice as cell phone cameras go. IIRC the 5+'s camera is widely considered to be good.
Having said that I don't take a lot of pictures.
Posted by: Rick C at Tue Nov 6 23:51:12 2018 (Iwkd4)
If I weren't flying, I would still be using my flip phone. But I needed a backup device, and my $60 no-carrier phone just wasn't cutting it anymore for the Garmin Pilot app. So, I bought a carrier LG phone, which replaced both devices. Still, it was $240. You just can't get anything much cheaper from a carrier, unless it's a VNMO that rapes consumers in monthly fees.
I remember back when Europe had expensive phones with SIMs, and we had carrier-locked phones that were given away. That was the grand bargain. Now we have $800 phones and no portability - the worst of both worlds. Thanks, Obama!
Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Wed Nov 7 10:42:08 2018 (LZ7Bg)
"You just can't get anything much cheaper from a carrier, unless it's a VNMO that rapes consumers in monthly fees. "
No, but if you're on AT&T/T-Mobile, you can buy any old unlocked phone and use it. The smartphones under $240 or so probably aren't going to be very good, though.
It turns out if you have an activated Verizon SIM card, you can stick it in a new (compatible) phone and it'll just work, like AT&T/T-Mobile always have, without getting special permission from Verizon like you used to have to. I found that out accidentally when I got my new Xiaomi last month. I was going through VZ's website, doing the "I want to switch my phone" form, which kept erroring out, but I'd already done the SIM swap, and noticed the phone went from "no service" to "Verizon".
It is kind of painful saying nice things about VZ, but there you have it.
Posted by: Rick C at Wed Nov 7 11:24:12 2018 (Q/JG2)
Oh, right. We're in the LTE age now.
Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Wed Nov 7 12:48:46 2018 (LZ7Bg)
Yes, although my understanding is you still really need CDMA support for a phone to work properly on VZ, but my phone has those bands.
Posted by: Rick C at Wed Nov 7 21:38:23 2018 (Iwkd4)
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