Straight Talk MMS and Cyanogenmod Android

Over the past few years I’ve been trying to rid myself of cell phone contracts and excessive overage fees.  After my wife went over our shared minutes and it cost us $250 (which we didn’t have), I began a search for a alternative carrier.   Shortly thereafter I discovered straight talk, and I haven’t been more pleased with the results.  There are some drawbacks to using a multi vendor network operator (e.g. straight talk).  The biggest are customer service (it’s always worth trying to solve your own problems), and setting up media messaging service (MMS, i.e. sending media in your text messages).  The later problem can be easily solved with some patience and knowledge.

First things first.  This post is directly related to getting Cyanogenmod Android, with a straight talk AT&T locked sim card, working with MMS.  If you have an iphone 4-4S there are decent instruction posted here (link).  I’ve tried these iphone instruction on my wife’s 4s and it worked perfectly.

To set things up on your android phone.  You’ll need to enter the straight talk APN settings (i.e. settings–>wireless and networks–>mobile networks–>Access Point Names).  I got my settings from unlock.co.nz.  You’ll find lots of variations online, but this site tends to be updated and concise.  Below I posted the settings as of 7/2012.

 Press Main
- Select Settings
- Select Wireless and Networks
- Select Mobile Networks
- Select Access point Names
- Delete all APN's in this section.
- Press Menu
- Press New APN
- Enter the follow settings one for General Data . The other for MMS

Name: US - Straight Talk Web
APN: att.mvno
Proxy:
Port:
Username:
Password:
Server:
MMSC:
MMS Proxy:
MMS Port:
MMS Protocol: WAP 2.0
MCC: 310
MNC: 410
Authentication Type: PAP
APN Type: default, supl

PXT Messaging MMS:
Name: US - Straight Talk MMS
APN: att.mvno
Proxy:
Port:
Username:
Password:
Server:
MMSC: http://mmsc.cingular.com
MMS Proxy: 66.209.11.33
MMS Port: 80
MMS Protocol: WAP 2.0
MCC: 310
MNC: 410
Authentication Type: PAP
APN Type: mms

It is important to note, that these settings call for two separate APNs.  I had tried combining these APN settings (i.e. the data and mms settings) into one APN, but I never got both mms and data to work at the same time.  Once I created two separate APNs (one for MMS and one for data/phone) everything worked fine.

Below is my APN home screen, the individual straight talk MMS APN settings, and the straight talk Data/Phone APN settings.  Keep in mind that even though the data/phone APN is selected (has a radio selection next to it), the MMS APN settings are still used by your phone.  Also note that I don’t have any additional APNs loaded (e.g. no standard AT&T or T-Mobile APNs).

Hopefully, this post saves you some time.  MMS is a nice feature when it works.

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NotesWiki

I think it’s time I started writing about one of my true passions: WIKIs. For you gen-xers, it’s hard to image life before Wikipedia, but I remember it. I went through undergrad college and most of medical school before the days of Wikipedia. I did an information science degree when Wikipedia was still thought of as a toy. Well, times have changed, and so has the reach of wiki platforms. Let me explain from personal experience.

When I was doing my engineering undergraduate degree I took meticulous notes on paper. I filled volumes of binders with everything I was learning, and occasionally, I even added a table of contents and index for a notes binder. I had these dreams of using the notes in these binders as future indispensable resources that would be utilized once I became a professional engineer. Once I finally got a job as an engineer I never looked at the notes again. It was too cumbersome to try and mine the binders for a small tid-bit of information that I could find in minutes from a well indexed book or online search.  What’s more, the binders took up so much space, and it was a pain to transport them.  In essence, the notes were only useful while I was in school (an academic exercise).

When I started medical school Wikipedia was just becoming a mainstream site. It was amazing how many of my classmates had Wikipedia open during lectures. As med students, we found that we could spend hours mining medical textbooks for the basics of a disease, or we could do a quick Wikipedia search and find general answers to our questions. Wikipedia was quickly becoming a useful resource for basic medical knowledge. The only problem with Wikipedia was it’s intention. Wikipedia was not made to be a authoritative medical repository, but rather an encyclopedia of general knowledge. Thus diseases were often not described in medical terminology, and treatments were often unsubstantiated. I began to wonder what it would be like to have a personal wiki where all my medical notes would be indexed, online, and evolve with my own understanding (not to mention the medical profession’s understanding) of medicine.  I also wanted to have all my medical knowledge traceable to its source (i.e. I wanted an easy way to cite).  I was tired of being questioned (aka. pimped) on medical facts, and getting different answers depending on who questioned me.

I began building what I called the Duke Medipedia. When I first created the wiki I envisioned that it would evolve into a sort of Duke Student Textbook, however, after I presented the idea to the med student governing body, I received a resounding rejection.   The student leaders didn’t  see the utility in yet another wiki, and they were concerned about who would police the site.  After the rejection, I decided to keep the site as a personal NotesWiki.  I had already populated the site with knowledge gained over my 4th year of medical school, and I was quickly realizing that the site would serve as a fantastic alternative to my undergraduate note binders.   Sure enough, I’m now a resident and use the site dozens of times each day to aid in patient diagnoses and to record medical knowledge learned during residency activities.  Best of all, packages like Wikimedia keep all my knowledge linked, indexed, and available on any web enabled device (phone, pc, workstations throughout hospital, etc).   Oddly enough, I attended the American Medical Informatics Symposium this fall, and the med student’s of the university of Wisconsin just published on their med student wiki textbook (Oh well).

When I pick this topic back up, I’ll spend some more time writing about:

1.Medpedia

2. The evolution of Wiki and V. Bush’s insight.

3. What makes a medical wiki even more useful: Semantic wikis, and Eugene Stead’s vision.

Posted in Medicine, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Collaborative Diagramming

This article is part of a series on Collaborative Development

I still remember the first time I learned how to use Auto Cad Lite. I loved it. As a first semester engineering student, it was probably the only course I took that reflected my professional aspirations. Sure the general education courses undergraduate institutions require you to take have their utility, but looking back, I’ve forgotten most of what I learned in undergrad, and what really stuck with me was the tangible skills they taught me. These tangible skills are also the reason I get paid.  As it turns out, it’s really hard to make a living without tangible skills.

So why mention Auto Cad when this post is about Collaborative Diagramming? AutoCad, like, many other graphic design tools have had to constantly change over the years. When I worked for Honeywell in 2003, I remember having to completely re-learn the AutoCad program. The 2-d version I had learned in school, with it’s basic functionality that mimicked pen and pencil drafting, had been abandoned for 3-D model extrusion and a bunch of new functionalities that allowed the designer to simulate how your object would preform in the real world, how much it would cost, and also produce detailed views from all possible angles. The program still served it’s basic role, but it had evolved. And it had evolved for better.  I remember the first time the machinist who was building the object I designed found out he could rotate my object in digital space and see exactly how I envisioned it to be created.  This saved a lot of extra explanation, and expedited the creation of my physical object.

Fast forward another 8 years and now we have a completely new way to create 3-D objects that takes a fraction of the time.  Sketchup, sold by Google, has completely transformed my drafting abilities, and has enabled me to create extremely intricate designs with very little effort.  Best of all it’s free, if you don’t need the professional layout capabilities.  Drafting tools have evolved, and because of this evolution we have a more intuitive, more robust, and as it turns out,  collaborative tool (see Sketchup’s 3D model space).

Collaborative diagramming tools are no different. For years, the king of diagramming tools has been Microsoft’s visio. Collaborative diagramming basically meant you would email a visio diagram back and forth between drafters until a cohesive diagram that represented your design/process was created. I’ve done this may times, and there a bunch of issues. The biggest issue is that visio isn’t included in the base MS office suite, and thus not everyone can see, or modify, your diagram. Another issue with this process is that two individuals in physically different locations can’t modify the same diagram at the same time. Collaborative development necessitates a “Shared Mental Model” (look this term up if you’re unfamiliar), and if you can’t see what the other person is doing, you have to rely on their verbal/typed description of their changes (big issue). I had been trying to find a solution to this issue for a while, and just recently a company called lucidchart has answered the call.

Lucid chart does a lot of things no other diagramming application does.

  • For one, it’s intuitive. I spent hours learning how to use visio, and visio still frustrates me. I remember trying to do a simple UML diagram in visio this past year only to finally give up and have a colleague redo the diagram in Enterprise Architect.
  • Lucidchart is html 5 based and thus platform independent. As firefox and IE become html 5 complaint, it will be browser independent too.
  • It allows you to make changes to a diagram in real time that someone else is also viewing and changing.  All remote changes are reflected in your local diagram.
  • It allows you to embed the cloud-based diagram in a web page/wiki as an image, and changes to the base diagram are reflected in the embeded page/wiki’s diagram image
  • It integrates with openID (i.e. your google, yahoo, openID, etc). This means you don’t need to create yet another id to use lucidchart’s services.
  • It lets you include any image on the web (pre-filtered) into your diagram. For instance, if you want a database image in your diagram, you can select the “image from google” sidebar option, and a bunch of correctly sized images representing a database can be dragged onto your working diagram.
  • It is inexpensive, and collaborators can be invited to make diagram changes without paying for access
  • Academic and free licenses exist. I hate subscribing to a tool that doesn’t allow for a thorough eval. This tool lets you create images for free as long as you don’t go over 60 objects in your free image.

More to come, but needless to say, between lucidchart and diagram.ly, visio has been displaced from my toolbox.

E

Update: just noticed that Luicidcharts now has an Atlassian confluence plugin.  So the best collaborative project wiki is now integrated w/ the best collaborative diagramming tool.

Posted in Applications, Documentation, Engineering, Project Management | Leave a comment