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Combined data plan may work for some

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

One unhappy side effect of the growth of devices like tablets has been the increasingly complex package of data plans which some people must purchase -- a data plan for your smartphone, another data plan for your tablet, maybe even a third data plan if you have a 4G USB receiver for your laptop.

Verizon Wireless has now introduced a "share everything" data plan that lets all of your various data-thirsty gadgets put their straws in the same glass. How much it costs depends on how much data you use and how many devices you have connected.

But Chris Ziegler at The Verge ( http://www.theverge.com ) says that while the plan may benefit some people, it's not the pricing revolution he was hoping for. The plan insists that you also buy unlimited talk and messaging for your cell phones, and there's a fixed monthly charge for each additional device which Ziegler believes is too high. If you don't currently have or want unlimited talk and messaging, the increased cost for those items, and that per-device fee, may offset some of the savings and flexibility you get from the shared data plan.

According to AP technology writer Peter Svensson, data is a much greater drain on mobile providers' networks than calling or messaging.

"Instead of the shared data holy grail, Verizon is essentially offering us a new spin on family plans," wrote Ziegler.

Svensson, however, said the plan would benefit those with multiple devices by making it affordable to add a tablet or laptop to your cellphone data plan instead of purchasing a separate plan.

The new "share everything" plan will do away with a previous surcharge that Verizon imposed if you used one of your devices as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.

Ziegler predicted that AT&T would probably follow Verizon's lead and offer a similar plan soon.

A sigh of relief

As I mentioned in a previous column, I was irresponsible in not backing up my data before a recent upgrade to my operating system. When I upgraded from Windows 8 Consumer Preview to Windows 8 Release Preview, I lost all of my documents and software -- or so I thought.

It turns out, I didn't lose that stuff after all. When I installed Windows 8 Release Preview, the install process created a directory called windows.old into which all of my old Windows installation, including documents and programs, was copied.

The upgrade process did not do a good job of explaining this, which is bad design on Microsoft's part. Not only do users want access to their old stuff, but -- once the upgrade has been successfully completed and is proven to be working fine -- you'll want to delete that windows.old folder (after removing the stuff you need) to free up disk space.

However, I'm happy to have my documents back.

--John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette and covers county government. He is also the author of the self-published novel "Soapstone." His personal web site is lakeneuron.com.



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John I. Carney
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John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette.