Monday, June 27, 2016

I'm back from vacation and here's what I have to say about using @ProjectFi overseas! (Thank you @Google!)

Pin It I just spent 10 days on vacation overseas with my family and I am SO GLAD I made the switch to Project Fi before we left! When we touched down in Paris and I powered on my phone, Project Fi greeted me with this...

And when we left Paris on a train and arrived in Luxembourg, I was greeted with this...

Let me tell you ... Project Fi had me covered EVERYWHERE! I made calls back to the US, as well as local (international) calls within France with NO problems at all. I connected to public wifi when I could, but when I couldn't, I still had no issues. I Facebooked, emailed, Instagramed and texted with no connectivity problems ever! And from what I can tell, it cost me VERY little!

When I returned back to the US and opened my Fi app (it's SO CONVENIENT to just tap the app to check my stats and usage!), this is what I discovered...

From what I can tell, I spent around $9 on phone calls to both the US and France at $.20/minute. I also spent roughly $7 on about .6 GB of data usage overseas at the same price as I would pay here - $10/GB. I have 8 days left on my billing cycle for this month and I am WELL under the 3GB plan I chose initially (which is CRAZY because I was maxing out at around 6GB/month with AT&T!). I will be receiving a credit at the end of this billing cycle for the unused data, so the $15.33 I racked up overseas is NOTHING! I think I paid more than that to AT&T last Spring Break when we were in Canada for TWO DAYS!

I will post again after this billing cycle ends and I have the final charges for my first month with Fi. I cannot say enough good things about my Nexus 6P, which took AMAZING photos on our vacation (my first real test of the camera - see below), and Project Fi service. If you have any specific questions, hit me up in the comments and I'll be happy to answer them!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sweet Treats with #Google Sheets and Share Smarter with @Buffer & @IFTTT ... my presos from #TCEATOTS :)

Pin It I meant to share these yesterday and forgot. In case you would like to check out at my presos from TCEA's Tots and Technology in Galveston yesterday. Thanks to those of you who attended and a special thanks to my pals +Tom Spall +Kellie Lahey and +Chad Jones for being in the audience during my last 2 edtech presentations. :) It was nice to have familiar faces in the crowd. :) Also a special thanks to Slides Carnival for always giving me killer Google Slides templates!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I've had my Nexus 6P and @ProjectFi for a week and here's what I have to say about it...

Pin It It's been a week since I set up my new Nexus 6P and activated Project Fi and I could not be happier!!! Here's what I have to share about the device and the service...

Nexus 6P

  • The battery life is AMAZING and the charger supplies such a quick charge! I was worried about not being able to switch out batteries, but I am just realizing that my old Note 3 was the problem. :) No issues AT ALL with staying in business with the 6P!
  • This phone ONLY comes with the basic apps that you NEED! There are no pre-installed navigation apps or storyboard apps or news apps or any other apps that I didn't ask for and don't WANT (and can't UNINSTALL!). All that came pre-installed were the basic Google apps ... the ones I would have gotten anyway!
  • The size is comparable to my Note 3, so there were no surprises there.
  • Sound quality is good - have played to our Fugoo speaker via bluetooth with no problems.
  • Because I was an Android user before, there are no real surprises in terms of software or settings. User friendly. Clean. Awesome.
  • The display ... OMG ... it - is - amazing. I read the reviews and everyone said the display was above average on the 6P, but I didn't really buy into the hype. Well - it's true. It is incredible and you can tell a difference. I look at my screen ... then look at my husband's iPhone ... there's a difference y'all!
  • Picture quality is awesome. Can even snap quick clear pics of my 2 wiggly boys like the one below. I am much happier with this camera than my Note 3 and to be honest - I thought the Note 3 was good!

Project Fi
  • I have yet to experience any loss of service! In fact, I haven't even experienced any sort of lag. I truly can't tell the difference between what I have now and what I had before. 
  • I have placed and received several phone calls at home over my wifi and on the road via LTE (in Brenham and in transit to Galveston through Houston) and have had crystal clear reception in all cases.
  • I love that ALL of my messages ... even my SMS message come through Google Hangouts, so I can respond to texts from my laptop. So much easier to type on a real keyboard!
  • I am making an effort to join public wifi everywhere I go. I didn't do this with my Note 3 with AT&T because I had unlimited data. However, I want to reduce my cellular usage, so I am trying to remember to join wifi in all of my favorite places. So far, so good!
  • I love love love the ease of tapping the Project Fi app on my homepage to check out my data consumption. I am sure I could have recalled this info on my former device, but Google makes it SO EASY! You can see below the days that I was on the road and the days I was in the office or at home. :)

So, overall I am 100% pleased with my decision and don't miss the old device or service one bit. We will be leaving for an overseas trip on Friday, so I will get to test out the international service, as well. I will report on that when I return. :) If you have any specific questions, hit me up in the comments below! I'm happy to answer any questions to help YOU make the decision to move to Fi! :)

Friday, June 10, 2016

Can I still be EdTech Chic without being in edtech?! My last day in #BISDwired...

Pin It
When I say I work with the best team around, I mean I work with THE BEST TEAM AROUND. For the last 7 years, I have been a part of the Brenham ISD Technology Department. These people are my family. Some of our family members have moved on to other opportunities and some new family members have joined the group. But at the end of the day, they're ALL still my family and I know they've got my back.

Several years ago, Brenham ISD decided to develop a presence on social media. I happily volunteered to be the lead on the initiative and luckily my boss (+Kim Strauss) supported me and gave me room to grow. It felt like a natural extension of my professional skills and beliefs and I was thrilled! 

Later, the campaign extended to a BISD re-brand with a new logo, an updated website and eventually even a mobile app! What an exciting time for my department and my district to be revitalizing our look and strengthening our communication lines with modern tools! Again, I was happy to be a part of the process and felt ownership for what we were creating.

Then, Brenham ISD hired a new superintendent with a passion for communication and I was given additional opportunities to stretch my skills. I started writing special interest stories for the district and producing videos to show people why they should choose Brenham ISD. I loved the challenge, but I always knew I had a safety net in my tech dept house.

If you had told me 7 years ago that I would be leaving my BISDwired family, I would have said you were crazy. Like CRAZY. CRAY-CRAY. These are my people. This is my house. I love my work. This is what I do and who I am.

However, when the job was posted for Director of Communications and Special Projects in BISD, I couldn't stop myself from applying. I had grown to love sharing the stories of Brenham ISD and showcasing our INCREDIBLE students and staff. I felt total ownership of our extended communication efforts and the idea of a new challenge was so exciting! I applied for the job, interviewed for the job and accepted the job when it was offered.

It has been an exciting few weeks, but also heartbreaking. Leaving my BISDwired family is hard. Like REALLY hard. Today was my last day as Instructional Technology Specialist for Brenham ISD. Saying goodbye to +Tom Spall and +Troy Kuhn today was heartbreaking. (Luckily we all had on sunglasses so it didn't get weird.) When I return to work on July 5, I will no longer be part of BISDwired. I will begin my new role as Director of Communications and Special Projects. Today I left the safety net of my BISDwired house. It feels like I am graduating and going away to college. Bittersweet. Invigorating. Terrifying.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband asked me, "Can you still be EdTech Chic if you're not in edtech anymore?!"

My answer: YES! Instructional Technology is such a part of who I am and it is absolutely what got me here today. From my days in the classroom at Brenham Middle School making stick figure Sam move his mouth with power point animations to Troop BES sessions with my elementary peeps to planning PBL units with my wonderful BHS staff ... instructional technology is in my soul! And it will stay there! EdTech Chic is just moving in a new edtech direction now. :) I am excited to use my edtech skills in a new and different way and hope you'll enjoy the journey with me!

I have been absolutely blown away by the support of my BISD friends and colleagues...especially in my own department. I am honored. I am grateful. I am 100% committed to being the best I can be. I will not let you down. I will make you proud. And know I am still just a phone call or email or tweet away!

Monday, June 6, 2016

My new Nexus 6P is set up and my @ProjectFi is LIVE! This is so exciting!

Pin It Today I set up my new Nexus 6P and activated Project Fi!!!  It has been VERY exciting and a fairly user-friendly experience. Here's what I received in my package...

When it was time to get started, I unboxed the contents and started following the directions. There was a nice cardboard card with step-by-step instructions on what to do. I powered on the phone and then followed the steps. The only step that hung me up was when it came time to insert the SIM card. The image on the SIM folder showed using a paperclip (which was clipped to the SIM folder) to release the SIM tray on the phone. I remembered seeing this method on some of the YouTube videos I watched, so I was confused as to why it wasn't working. After several attempts with the paperclip, I started looking at the other materials and discovered a small tool that was intended for the job. The tray released and I inserted the SIM card easily.

Then the phone started walking me through the rest of the steps, which were also easy to follow! I had already entered my AT&T information via the Fi web portal when prompted upon sign up, so that information was automatically populated in my phone. All I had to do was sign in using my Google account and click the buttons to begin the phone number transfer process!

The part of this process that had me the most anxious was the phone number porting/transfer. I wanted to keep my existing phone number, but I had NO idea what would happen when the transfer happened. My Nexus gave me a little notification that it could take 1-2 days to complete and that I would not be able to call or text.


After a few failed attempts (because I had the wrong AT&T account pin and had to find it), it looked like it was doing it's thing. I allowed the system update on the phone to occur during all of this happening, so when my device restarted, I was unclear if the transfer worked or not. Instead of freaking out ... AGAIN ... I had my colleague call me and my NEW PHONE RANG! Success!!!

So now to get used to the new device and see how this Fi thing is going to work. So far, slight learning curve answering calls and finding all of my contacts, but I am feeling good. It's a phone. It does what a phone should do. :) In case anyone is interested, here are links for the screen protector and phone cover I ordered from Amazon. Easy to install and just what I wanted.

As for the Google Project Fi phone service, that will be a future post! :) I will be monitoring my data usage and the Fi coverage and will report back soon! So far, this has been a pretty exciting and worthwhile experience!

Big DUH moment in preparation for @ProjectFi - managing and merging my device and #Google contacts!

Pin It Please don't laugh as you read this post. I am sure I should have already known all of this, but somehow I missed it. :)

My new Nexus phone and Project Fi information have arrived! I have set aside some time this afternoon to get it all set up and ready and I promise to blog about that later.

In preparation for leaving my Samsung Note 3 and my AT&T account behind, I wanted to make sure I had all of my contacts synced and saved. I have been searching and searching for an app or tool that would allow me to sync and save my contacts from my phone to my computer or Gmail account so I can rest assured I haven't lost anything.

Enter DUH moment.

Say what?! All I have to do is go to my Google Contacts on my laptop and all of my contacts are there?! Yep. Sure are. How did I not know this already?!

Something else that has always bothered me is duplicate contacts. Search for a contact and several of the same come up with all different information. But guess what else I learned this morning?! YOU CAN MERGE YOUR DUPLICATES in Google Contacts, as well!

That was easy. :)

I will blog this evening about my fancy new Nexus 6P and my Project Fi process and experience! This is so exciting!!!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

I just ordered a 64GB Nexus 6P and I'm leaving AT&T for @ProjectFi! #GAFE #edtech #YOLO

Pin It I remember when the iPhone came out. My husband and I were living in Georgia at the time and we went to an AT&T store to try it out. It was tethered to a huge iPhone display and I remember saying "HOLY COW! I'm browsing a website ON THE PHONE!" Shortly thereafter, we abandoned our beloved Blackberry devices and jumped on the iPhone bandwagon. We knew our mobile experiences were forever changed!

Then I fell in love with Google. Our district went Google and I became a Google Certified Trainer. I drank the Google kool-aid and I was Google smitten. I applied for the Google Teacher Academy three times and finally got to go to Chicago to become a Google Certified Teacher. I spent 2 days with Android loving folks and came home a changed mobile user. Shortly thereafter, I abandoned my beloved iPhone for a Samsung Galaxy S5 (after I spent 30 minutes hemming and hawing with the poor kid at AT&T). My mobile experience was again changed!

Here I am again at a sort of mobile crossroads. I currently have a Samsung Note 3 and have service through AT&T. I pay about $112/month, which includes my AT&T "Next" fee (dropped my shiny new S5 a while back and couldn't bring myself to fork over $500 all at once for another device). I am grandfathered in with an unlimited plan from a million years ago, which is actually really great. However, because of that, I rarely switch over to wifi. I don't have to worry about overages, so who cares?! I will admit that I regularly exceed 5GB per month.

So, why now? Why switch? Well, There are several reasons...
  • I am ready to move on to a new device and have been interested in the Nexus for some time.
  • I would REALLY like to reduce my bill - over $100/month is CRAZY.
  • Fi offers unlimited talk and text and some interesting international options, as well, which are attractive to me (we are going overseas in a few weeks).
  • I am also just kind of curious. I find the Fi project interesting and just kind of want to see what it's all about. 
In case you have never heard of Project Fi, here's the gist...
  • You pay $20/month flat rate for unlimited talk and text.
  • Data is $10/month per GB. So if you want 3GB per month, you would pay an additional $30/month. You choose what you want and can change at any time.
  • You only pay for what you use, so if you have designated a 3GB plan and you only use 2GB, they credit your account!
  • You MUST use a Fi-approved Nexus device to have the service. Apparently these devices are equipped with the software to switch between LTE and wifi.
  • Oh, yeah ... see the phone actually switches from LTE to wifi when it's available WITHOUT YOU DOING A THING! (this was a big selling feature for me)
This short video might help you understand a little better...

I did a lot of reading (this post was pretty useful, as was Reddit) and watched a lot of YouTube videos. After talking it out with my husband (who is still a die hard iPhone user), putting it out there on Twitter and Facebook and emailing a colleague who used to work for AT&T, I decided to pull the trigger!

Then I got hung up on which device to choose ... the 5X or the 6P. What to do?! Research, of course! I did comparisons of the 5X and 6P and even threw in the Note 3 to see what I might expect from my new device. I took into consideration the size, battery life, camera quality, available storage and price. Here's what I discovered (that mattered to me)...
  • The 5X is smaller than the 6P, which is roughly the same size as the Note 3 I have now.
  • The 5X is made of plastic and the 6P is aluminum.
  • The 6P has a better display.
  • The 6P reported better batter life.
  • Cameras are both about the same.
  • The 5X only offers up to 32GB, but the 6P goes up to 128GB.
Although the 5X was significantly cheaper ($249 for 32GB), I ultimately went with the 64GB 6P for $549 because the pretty blue 5X was sold out. :) Just kidding. I really wanted the increased storage capacity and battery life is a biggie for me. I am a little hesitant about the size of the 6P ... it's slightly larger than my Note 3, but I was able to adapt from the S5 to the Note 3 fairly easily and don't think I could go back to a smaller device now. I wait! I wait as patiently as I can for my Project Fi kit and Nexus phone to arrive. I will post an update as soon as anything new develops. As my husband told me earlier this evening, YOLO! :) Why the heck not try it?! We have a saying in our family that nothing is permanent...if there's something that isn't working for us, we change it! So, if Project Fi isn't a good fit, I can hang my head and tuck my tail and go crawling back to AT&T.