Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Whelp, We've All Just Been Thrust Into an Enormous Social Science Experiment

So, this is really happening, I guess.
 
As you probably didn't notice, I haven't been blogging about this election like I blogged my way through the last election - largely because I have kids now and don't have much free time or headspace for blogging. Also because this was essentially a policy-free election; how many people actually know what either of the candidates proposed to do with this country? I blogged about the issues a lot during the 2012 election - that would have been a pointless endeavor this time around, since policy was practically never discussed.
 
Well, now America has gone and elected a sexist, racist, bigoted, misogynist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, homophobic sexual predator endorsed by the KKK as President.
 
I have lots of feelings and mostly incoherent thoughts, and I needed to get them out of my head and put them somewhere, anywhere else.
 
In no particular order:
 
1. I am shocked and ashamed at my country, and at half of the people in this country. How could half of Americans look at a racist, sexist tangerine who boasts about sexually assaulting women and say, "Yep, that's who I want to be the leader of my country and the free world?" Everyone who voted for Trump voted for racism, sexism, bigotry, xenophobia, misogyny, Islamophobia, and homophobia to enter mainstream American political discourse, and that genie will be very hard to put back in the bottle. I suspect future historians will look back on this period of American history with the disgust that we now look back on the McCarthy and pre-Civil Rights eras.
 
1a. I am also shocked at the depth of the failures of US democratic institutions that enabled and empowered Trump's rise - the media, the Republican political establishment, and the Democratic political establishment - I suspect that lots of people will be dissecting the failures of these institutions for years to come. But, I mostly blame the media, for continuing to push a false equivalency narrative and pretend that Clinton's small mistakes (email server) or unfounded conspiracy theories (Benghazi) were somehow equivalent to Trump's total lack of experience, unabashed racism, sexism, bigotry, xenophobia, misogyny, Islamophobia, and homophobia - not to mention the fact that he literally bragged about sexually assaulting women. You have betrayed us for decades, US media, by pushing the false equivalency narrative that the two parties are just different sides of the same coin, and the Trump presidency is the culmination of that betrayal. I hope you've finally learned your lesson, but I guess we'll see.
 
2. Shamelessly stolen from someone on Twitter: This is a really strange way for the US to lose the Cold War, 25 years after the fall of the Soviet Union. I guess the arm of the USSR is longer than I thought.
 
3. Yet, probably out of self-preservation, I'm also super apathetic and just don't care - even though the election didn't go the way I want, I revel in my privilege, which will insulate me from most/all of the negative effects of a Trump Presidency. I'm not going to lose my house, my healthcare, or my job (unless America suddenly decides that it wants to let poor babies and children starve); I'm not going to be deported; I'm not going to be persecuted or even harassed; I'm not going to find myself needing an abortion that I can't get; I'm not going to have my vote suppressed. I acknowledge and am cynically thankful for my privilege, which is going to protect me from a Trump presidency, unless Trump somehow manages to start a nuclear war or something.
 
3a. The apathetic part of me is super cynical about the lower turnout among young people and minorities for Clinton - you all didn't bother to show up to vote, and now you're screwed. I tried to do my part to help you all, but my privilege insulates me - what the hell are you going to do?
 
4. In the long run, I am seriously concerned about climate disaster, as Trump may push us past the point of being able to reverse the worst effects of climate change. It may require us relocating north to get away from the worst effects of it, and I am concerned that my children and grandchildren will grow up in a world much more hostile to human life than the one I grew up in.
 
5. The USA is way more racist and sexist than I thought. I guess we haven't come as far since the Civil Rights era as we thought/hoped.
 
5a. I wonder if we're going to have to have a new Civil Rights or Voting Rights era. Voter suppression worked in places like North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Texas - and I'm afraid we're going to see Republicans continue their efforts to suppress Democratic voters, because they don't have much of an electoral future if they continue to tie their electoral future to old, angry, white people.
 
6. People say they voted for Trump to change the way things work in Washington - but they re-elected most of the same members of Congress. So, not much is going to change in Washington, because Congress sets the tenor of Washington, not the President.
 
6a. Corollary to the above point: The electorate has rewarded the Republicans' scorched-earth politics of the past 8 years. Next to climate change, this may cause the greatest long-term damage to the country. The Republicans last controlled all three branches of government under Bush II and screwed it up so badly they should have been disqualified from power for a generation, but my my, Americans have very short memories. Anyway, due to the vindication of Republicans' scorched-earth politics, I expect gridlock to get worse, not better. I literally see no end to this in sight.
 
7. I am continuously amazed at the extent to which such a large portion of the American electorate is repeatedly duped into voting against their own interests.
 
8. Maybe the USA was a little too hasty when we cast off the British monarchy?
 
9. The Electoral College system has now delivered us two of the worst Presidents we've ever had, even though these Presidents didn't win the popular vote - Bush II in 2000, and Trump in 2016. Despite this, we will never be able to rid ourselves of the stupidity of the Electoral College system unless Trump screws things up so badly that we have to write a new Constitution.
 
10. On the bright side, no one ever has to pretend to take evangelical Christians or Republicans seriously when they try to talk about morality or any such nonsense ever again. From now on, any time an evangelical Christian or Republican tries to talk to me about anything from a moral angle, I'm literally going to laugh in their hypocritical faces.
 
11. Or maybe one should understand this election as the Baby Boomers' last "fuck you" to the world. The Boomers didn't manage to destroy the earth by foisting Bush II on America back in 2000 and 2004, so they're trying to destroy the world again - Dr. Strangelove style, by riding a political nuclear bomb into oblivion - by shoving Trump down our throats before they die off. Ah, the Baby Boomers - fucking things up for everyone else since 1945.
 
12. I am having a really hard time trying to convince myself that anyone who voted for Trump can be a fundamentally good person.
 
13. In addition to shock and apathy, I am also feeling rage - rage at the half of the country who voted for such a transparently unqualified loser to be President. I have no doubt that a Trump presidency will make the lives of millions (billions?) of people worse - millions will likely lose their healthcare, will lose their jobs/houses/etc. in the upcoming Trump/Republican recession, will lose their ability to vote, etc.
 
13a. Even in my rage, I am ashamed of my own vitriolic feelings towards my fellow citizens. A darker part of me screams curses at all who voted for Trump, voted 3rd party, or didn't bother to vote at all - you all inflicted this tragedy upon America. A darker part of me hopes that you suffer personally because of your mistakes in this election, as your mistake will make others suffer. A darker part of me hopes that you lose your house and your job in the upcoming Trump/Republican recession. A darker part of me hopes that you get a chronic illness after Obamacare is repealed and you can't get healthcare and go bankrupt. A darker part of me hopes that your wife/daughter/sister has an unwanted or unviable pregnancy and can't get an abortion when she desperately needs it. A darker part of me hopes that your children and grandchildren fight and die in Trump's unnecessary wars. A darker part of me hopes that your water and land is polluted and poisoned after Trump guts environmental protections. A darker part of me hopes that your parents have to move in with you when they can't keep their house after their Social Security payments are cut. A darker part of me hopes that your home is flooded or burned due to unabated climate change. A darker part of me hopes that, after all that, you will recognize your folly.
 
Millions of people who had the sense to vote for Clinton will suffer the above traumas. A darker part of me hopes that those of you who inflicted Trump upon us will also suffer the same traumas for your bad choices - and I am ashamed of that part of me.
 
Many of my friends are already talking about love and reconciliation - and I hope that I can banish my darker side and get there too, sometime, and soon, and then summon the energy to keep fighting the good fight, for truth, justice, and the American way.
 
But I have shame, rage, apathy, privilege, and so much more to work through first.
 
I hope I'm wrong about what I expect Trump to do to this country.
 
I've never hoped more earnestly to be wrong.
 
It's going to be an ... interesting 4 years.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Absolute Cheapest (Even Free!) Cell Phone Plans, 2016 Edition

While your bill may not be $20k per month, you are almost
certainly paying way more for your cell phone than you should.

A few of my most popular posts continue to be my post last year on the cheapest (and yet still awesome) cell phone plans available in the US - many thousands of people have read them, and many commented to thank me or add additional info. Since I've been helping some friends switch phone companies recently, I figured it was time for an update, with the newest, best, and/or cheapest plans available right now, in August 2016!

First, the background:

Two years ago, I helped my parents and my wife cut the cord from the Death Star (i.e., AT&T Mobile) - prior to making the change, we were paying $200+ per month for two dumb phones and two smart phones on a family plan, and we didn't even have unlimited minutes. Now, my dad is paying about $0.50/month for his dumb phone plan, and my wife, my mom, and I are each paying $0/month for our smart phone plans - that's right, 100% free.

So, from $200 per month to $0.50 per month, for the four of us - that isn't a typo.

How much are you paying? If you're in the US, you're paying too much, and you're paying a lot more than the rest of the developed world is. The minimum service packages typically available in the USA do not come at a minimum price point:


Furthermore, US customers pay a lot more on average than customers in other advanced countries:


"But wait - surely we're getting more, if we're paying more, right?" you say. "Wrong," I reply. Here's a cost comparison that prices what the same level of usage would cost in each country:


So, you're paying a lot more for your cell phone than people in other countries are. What can you do about it?

I have done a lot of research into the current offerings out there, and I've found some really innovating pricing done by small companies - many of whom offer much, MUCH better deals than the big 4 in the USA (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint). As I don't want all that research and knowledge to go to waste, I figured I'd write an overview of what I found and detail the best cell phone deals available (as of August 2016) for a bunch of different consumer archetypes - the odds are that you fall into one of the below buckets, and the odds are that you can save A LOT of money compared to your current cell phone bill.

(Disclaimer: My wife, my mom, and I are all on RingPlus, my dad is on LycaMobile, my father-in-law is on Ting, and my mother-in-law is on Selectel Wireless. I was not paid any money by any company for this post, nor do I receive any referral fees. I detail any personal experiences with the companies I've had below; I have not had personal experiences with all the below-listed companies. Also, none of the below prices include possible taxes, fees, etc., so your monthly bill from any of them might be a little higher than detailed below - e.g., when I was on RingPlus's $10/month plan, my total bill was $12.15/month, which is pretty typical.)

All of the below plans are prepaid plans (as prepaid cell plans are far cheaper than contract plans), but that means that you have to pay full price for your phone up-front (I recommend buying a used or refurbished phone, as they are perfectly functional at a substantial discount). However, even paying full price for a phone, you'll be saving a lot of money over the course of a two year contract with one of the big companies. So, I don't want to hear any complaints about how much a phone costs. You're saving oodles of money in the long-run.

Alrighty, let's save you some serious money - and if you want to support the blog, feel free to donate a portion of your savings via PayPal via the email address in the upper right part of the page ;)

This Year's Winner: Free Service for Smart Phone Users with Spring LTE Coverage: RingPlus.net


My recommended plan: The biggest promotional free plan you can grab. Currently, you can get 500 minutes, 500 texts, and 500 MB free per month anytime (with a one-time, up-front top-up fee), though they regularly (read: usually every 2 weeks) run promotions were you can get MUCH more for free every month. My wife, my mom, and I are all on a plan that gives us each 3500 minutes, 3500 texts, and 3500 MB of LTE data for FREE, every month. The highest plan I've ever seen them offer was a 6000/6000/6000 free plan, but they regularly run promotions that offer 2000+/2000+/2000+ for free, every month, after a one-time top-up fee.

The Phone: Best is to bring your own (fully-paid off) Sprint-compatible phone (I'd recommend a Google Nexus 5x) - you can check whether it's compatible here. If you're bringing a phone that requires a SIM card, you'll need a Sprint CDMA SIM card, which is cheapest to order from Ting, strangely enough, though you can also order a SIM from RingPlusIf you don't want to wait for a big promo to sign up with your own phone, you can also buy a phone from the RingPlus Marketplace (may require account creation/login to access) that comes pre-activated with one of their big free promo plans.

The Good: Yes, Virginia, you can get totally free smart phone service, and with a ton of minutes, texts, and MB to boot. The service works great anywhere that Sprint has native towers, and Sprint is working hard to improve their network and expand their LTE and 3G coverage, so RingPlus's coverage is only going to get better going forward (I've noticed a significant improvement in Sprint's network in the past two years since I've been with RingPlus). Unlike FreedomPop, RingPlus's voice service runs over Sprint's towers, so you can make calls anywhere Sprint has a signal - it doesn't have to be a LTE signal to work well.

The Bad: It runs on Sprint's network, which, despite recent improvements, isn't be best network out there - but, Sprint's network is much better than it was even just a couple of years ago, and RingPlus works anywhere Sprint has a signal. And if you live in an area covered by Sprint Spark (like me - I get 38Mbps down and 12Mbps up with a ping of 48ms - on Sprint!) and have a Sprint Spark-capable phone (I'd recommend the Google Nexus 5x), the service is really quite excellent. However, to some extent, you get what you pay for - though I've never had a problem bringing a device to RingPlus, setup does require some technical savvy, and their customer service is rather slow. The only "catches" are that you have to listen to songs/ads when making outbound calls, and that you have to make an outbound call at least once every 60 days - otherwise, your plan might be downgraded, but those are easy for me to live by for my free phone service. Finally, if you do go over your free allotment, their per-minute and per-megabyte charges are higher than the other options here (they've got to make money somehow, after all). There's also no roaming off of Sprint's network, though you can set up roaming on your phone with some extra setup (and extra cost, of course).

The Verdict: I think RingPlus definitely offers the best value of any of the plans on this page (which is why I'm now with them). With an awesome BYOD program that lets you use pretty much any top-tier phone you want, the ever-improving Sprint network, and 3000+ minutes 3000+ texts, and 3000+ MB of data per month for FREE, RingPlus is the clear winner in this year's ranking, which is why I give RingPlus my recommendation for most users out there (especially if paired with a great Sprint Spark phone like the Google Nexus 5x).

Dirt-Cheap Per-Minute Service for Grandma and Grandpa: LycaMobile


My recommended plan: Their pay as you go plan (5 cents per voice minute; 4 cents per text; 6 cents per megabyte of data.) [Note: last year, Lycamobile announced that top-ups would expire after 90 days regardless of use, but Lycamobile seems to have changed its mind, as that is no longer in their terms and conditions, and my dad's credit hasn't expired. But, they might decide to reinstate that policy - with prepaid phones, anything is possible.]

Note that Lycamobile's pay-as-you-go plan is an unlisted plan. To use that plan, get a Lycamobile SIM and load money on the SIM ($10, $20, or however much) and DO NOT choose a monthly plan. Your SIM will then default to the unlisted pay-as-you-go plan, which will be your Lycamobile plan unless/until you pick one of their monthly plans.

The Phone: Any unlocked GSM phone (i.e. any phone that is unlocked and compatible with AT&T or T-Mobile). These kinds of dumb phones can be bought used for $20 or less, or you may even have some of these lying around in a drawer somewhere.

The Good: Dirt-cheap per-minute cell phone service. LycaMobile is also the only prepaid service I know of where your credit doesn't expire after a certain period of time (e.g. after 30 or 90 days), as long as you make 1 phone call or send 1 text every 90 days. Since my dad only uses about 25 minutes per month, dad's monthly bill with LycaMobile is $0.50-$1 per month. Fantastic. LycaMobile uses T-Mobile's network (and it includes 4G access where available), so coverage is pretty good, especially in cities.

The Bad: The per-minute text and data rates are higher than some of the other options on this list, so I don't recommend this for a smart phone user. Also, even though their coverage is nationwide, you can only sign up if you have an address in a city. For example, my parents in rural Tennessee couldn't sign up for this plan directly - I had to have the SIM cards shipped to me in DC and had to sign them up with a DC phone number, though the service works fine for them in Tennessee.

The Verdict: This is a great plan for people like Grandma and Grandpa, who don't use many minutes, don't need much/any texting or data, and just want a simple dumb phone with very basic, cheap service. RingPlus is another option, however, as you can also activate Sprint dumb phones on one of RingPlus's free plans.

Note: LycaMobile also has one of the cheapest unlimited talk and text plans available ($19/month, with 100MB of data included), running on T-Mobile's network, which is another compelling offering of theirs. LycaMobile also includes unlimited calling to 10 foreign countries, which could be important for some.

If You HATE Sprint but Want Loads of Data for Cheap: T-Mobile Monthly4G


My recommended plan: 100 Minutes, Unlimited Texts, and Unlimited Data (up to 5GB at 4G speeds) for $30/month.

The Phone: Any unlocked GSM phone will work, though obviously, you'd want one compatible with T-Mobile's 4G LTE service. Might I recommend the Google Nexus 5x?

The Good: T-Mobile earns props for being the only company of the big 4 that earns a spot on my list at all, even if it is a bit of a niche plan. If you simply HATE Sprint irrationally (or if Sprint's coverage in your area is particularly bad), this plan is a cheap way to get lots of data.

The Bad: Very low number of minutes (not a problem for me, but a problem for some/many). This plan is only available from Wal-Mart or directly from t-mobile.com.

The Verdict: An excellent option for people who want lots of data and don't want to / can't use Sprint, and/or who already have an unlocked GSM smart phone they can use with this service. I had an out-of-contract Samsung Galaxy S2 from AT&T and used it on this plan for several months until the phone finally broke (when I replaced it with a Google Nexus 5 and switched to RingPlus). However, I'll note that T-Mobile's coverage is often quite poor outside of cities, though they too have been improving their network substantially in the past year.

LTE Data in Rural America: Page Plus Cellular


Good news for those of you who live in the middle of nowhere and simply HAVE to have 4G LTE data - two years ago, Verizon finally opened up it's LTE network to a companies other than Verizon. The best-known Verizon MVNO is definitely Page Plus Cellular, and probably offers the best value for most smartphone users. With Page Plus, you can get access to Verizon's LTE network for a good deal less than what Verizon charges. The downside to Page Plus is that the LTE speed is capped at 5 Mbps - while that's fast enough for most purposes, it's a lot slower than the 15+ Mbps you'd see on Verizon's LTE network or the 60+ Mbps you'd see on Verizon's XLTE network.

Other readers have reported that, if you already have an AT&T or Verizon number and port that number to Tracfone, then you can get AT&T or Verizon service at Tracfone's prices. I have no experience with that myself, however, but it might be an option worth looking into.

Finally, there are other companies (Puppy Wireless, Selectel Wireless) that offer tiny plans on Verizon's 4G network for very little money, if you're a very light user.

Oh well - if you live in the middle of nowhere, you've got to take what you can get, I suppose, or give your first born child to Verizon.

Honorable Mention for Verizon Coverage on the Cheap: Puppy Wireless


I'm sure some of you out there are like my mother-in-law, who lives in a rural area and wanted Verizon's coverage, but wanted to pay a lot less for it, particularly since she doesn't need unlimited minutes or much data. With some of Puppy Wireless's CDMA plans, you can bring your own non-LTE Verizon devices (e.g., an iPhone 4s) and get 2G and 3G Verizon coverage for cheap - for example, 250 minutes, 250 texts, and 25MB of data for $12/month, or pay $15 per month to bump that up to 200MB of 3G data on Verizon's network. Puppy Wireless also offers even tinier 4G plans on Verizon's network, but I think their real value is in super-cheap 3G access to Verizon's network - either way, there's no cheaper way to get coverage on Verizon's network, if that's a priority for you.

If you want a bit more data on Verizon but are still OK with 3G speeds, Red Pocket Mobile offers 300 minutes, unlimited texts, and 1GB of 3G data on Verizon for $20/month, which is also a pretty good deal.

Other Honorable Mentions:

  • Republic Wireless: Perhaps the pioneer in ultra-cheap cell service, they're well-known for their excellent customer service and community, though I don't find their current plan offerings very compelling, especially when compared with RingPlus.
  • Ting: Another pioneer in cheap cell service, they haven't dropped prices as quickly as some other MVNOs. But, my father-in-law is with Ting (because for some reason, the ads with RingPlus drove him crazy), but RingPlus now offers some plans without ads (the "Mad" plans), so I don't think Ting is very compelling right now either.
  • US Mobile: They shamelessly stole Ting's business model and made the plans even cheaper. Runs on T-Mobile's network and has a fancy account dashboard.
  • FreedomPop: Definitely the pioneer in free monthly cell phone service, but their free offering (200 minutes, 500 texts, and 500MB of data free per month) doesn't hold a candle to RingPlus's promotional free plans, and their VOIP phone setup leads to much less reliable voice calls than RingPlus's real cell service. FreedomPop does have one compelling offering - a SIM card that gives 200 minutes, 500 texts, and 200MB of data free in 30+ countries throughout the world. I grabbed one for when I travel abroad in a country covered by their free international service.
  • TextNow: If 3000+ minutes and texts per month for free from RingPlus really isn't enough for you, you can get unlimited minutes/texts with varying amounts of data at various price points on Sprint's network with TextNow.
  • AirVoice Wireless: If you need unlimited talk and text on a non-Sprint network, you can get unlimited talk and text (with a paltry 100MB of data) for $20/month on AirVoice, which runs on AT&T's network.
  • Tello: Super-cheap pay-as-you-go service on Sprint's network. Top-ups don't expire for 6 months.
  • TPO Wireless: Offers unlimited talk and text plans on either Sprint's or T-Mobile's network with substantially more data (2GB for $25/month).

So, that's what I found - have you found an even better deal? If so, let me know in the comments.

(FYI - the best list of all MVNOs available in the USA is probably this one right here - if you explore that list and find an awesome deal I that I overlooked, be sure to let me know in the comments.)

Also, the above obviously only applies to my American readers - but if you're from another country and have found a sweet cell phone deal, feel free to share that in the comments as well.

Note to people signing up for a Sprint MVNO like RingPlus: Sprint has changed their system for how they check whether phones are eligible to be activated on a Sprint MVNO, and there are reports that Sprint is falsely rejecting a lot of phones for their MVNO services. So, to be safe, I'd recommend either buying your phone directly from either Google/Apple/Sprint or the company above that you want to do business with, OR get the seller (if you're buying a used phone via Ebay, Amazon, Craigslist, etc.) to send you the ESN of the phone they're selling before you buy so you can check to make sure it is able to activate via the Ting ESN checker, RingPlus ESN checker, or FreedomPop ESN checker. Most people report that Sprint seemed to have fixed most of the activation problems several months ago, so I'm hoping this won't be much of an issue moving forward - but, I would still check the ESN of a phone before buying it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

One of the Most Complete Bibliographies about the Roma People Available on the Internet

Remember this? The start of this blog? It's time to revisit my time with the Roma just a little bit.

So, I got an odd request a few days ago - a stranger on the internet emailed me out of the blue and told me that he/she adopted children from an orphanage in Eastern Europe about 15 years ago, and that the children were of Roma descent. This person wrote me asking for information about the Roma people to share with her children.

I dug out an old bibliography that I put together during my time working with the Roma, and I realized that I had never published that bibliography anywhere. Well, perhaps that person isn't alone in his/her search for resources about the Roma, and since this blog gets at least a medium amount of traffic (for a random blog, anyway), I figured I'd put my bibliography up here, in case it helps out someone else. It's the collection of books, websites, documentaries, films, and TV series that I put together as my primary reference material while I was working with the Roma oh so many years ago.

The below is a little dated - I haven't updated it since August 2005 (except to add the Vermeersch book), but it's still a pretty good collection. The list of documentaries, films, and TV series in particular is probably be the most comprehensive list of films about the Roma that has ever been assembled in one place (at least in English, German, and Hungarian), so if you use this list somewhere else, please give me credit for it.

Without further ado, here's my bibliography. If something awesome on the Roma has been published, please feel free to add it in the comments!

English:

Critical reading:


Crowe, David M. "A History of the Gypsies of Eastern Europe and Russia."

ERRC Country Report for the relevant country (http://www.errc.org)
Hancock, Ian. "We are the Romani People."

 
Recommended reading:

Fraser, Angus. "The Gypsies."
Hancock, Ian. "The Pariah Syndrome: An Account of Gypsy Slavery and Persecution." (available for free download at http://www.patrin.com)
Hancock, Ian et al, eds. "The Roads of the Roma: a PEN Anthology of Gypsy Writers." 
Human Rights Watch. "Rights Denied: The Roma of Hungary." (http://hrw.org/reports/1996/Hungary.htm)
The Patrin Web Journal (http://www.patrin.com)

Tong, Diane. "Gypsy Folktales."
Yoors, Jan. "The Gypsies."
Vermeersch, Peter. "The Romani Movement: Minority Politics and Ethnic Mobilization in Contemporary Central Europe."
German:

Awosusi, Anita. „Zigeunerbilder in der Kinder- und Jugendliteratur."
Kenrick, Donald. „Sinti und Roma: Von Indien bis Zum Mittelmeer." 
Reemtsma, Katrin. „Sinti und Roma: Geschichte, Kultur, Gegenwart."
Rose, Romani. „Den Rauch hatten wir täglich vor Augen: Der nationalsozialistische Völkermord an den Sinti und Roma."

Hungarian:

„Amaro Drom" (http://www.amarodrom.hu)
Frasier, Angus. „A Cigányok." 
Horváth Ágota, Landau Edit, Szalai Júlia. "Cigánynak Születni."
Lackova, Ilona. „Szerencsés csillagzat alatt születtem...Egy cigányasszony élete Szlovákiában." 
„Romák a XXI. Század Magyarországán: Multidiszciplináris konferencia a Kölcsey Ferenc Protestáns Szakkollégium szervezésében."

Websites:

http://nigeldickinson.com/gallery/Gypsies/ (Photojournal of Roma from all of Europe)
http://part.org.ua/ (English and Russian) 
http://romea.cz/english/ (Czech, English, Romani)
http://www.amarodrom.hu/ (Hungarian)
http://www.budapestsun.com/ (English)
http://www.coe.int/T/DG3/RomaTravellers/ (English, French)
http://www.dzeno.cz/ (Czech, English, Romani)
http://www.erionet.org/ (English, Romanian, Macedonian, Romani, Polish, Albanian, Bulgarian, Russian, Slovakian, Serbian/Croatian, Hungarian, Finnish)
http://www.errc.org/ (English, Romani, Russian, some reports in most European languages) 
http://www.eu-romani.org/ (English)
http://www.irf.kiev.ua/old-site/eng/programs/cs/archive/roma_of_ukraine_program_strategy.html (this report in English, site in Ukrainian)
http://www.patrin.com/ (English, French, German, some Romani) 
http://www.pravda.com.ua/ (Ukrainian, English, Russian) 
http://www.radioc.hu/ (Hungarian)
http://www.romadecade.org/ (English and Romani)
http://www.romaeducationfund.org/ (English)
http://www.romaniworld.com/ (English)
http://www.romaniyag.uz.ua/ (Ukrainian and English)
http://www.romapage.hu/ (Hungarian, English, Spanish, German, Dutch, Romanian, Slovakian, Polish)
http://www.slovakspectator.sk/ (English)
http://www.worldbank.org/roma (English)
http://www.soros.org/initiatives/roma (English)


Preliminary Film List:  

Instructions: 
Go to http://www.imdb.com and search for the titles for more information. When available, the English titles are given with the original titles in quotes, along with other notes as needed. Even though some of the documentaries are listed on the IMDB, you'll find more information about them on Google, but IMDB often has helpful reviews/opinions/ratings of the films.
Ones that I would particularly recommend watching (if possible) I have marked in bold.

Feature Films about Roma:  

A cigány hold (note: not on IMDB, search Google) 
Alma gitana 
Angelo My Love 
Black Cat, White Cat ("Crna macka, beli macor") 
Carmen (1983/I) 
Cigánykoldus karácsonya (note: not on IMDB, search Google) 
Gypsy Wildcat 
I Come ("Vengo," another Gatlif film)   
I Even Met Happy Gypsies ("Skupljaci perja") 
King of the Gypsies 
Temptations ("Kísértések") 
Latcho Drom (Second film of Gatlif's Roma trilogy)   
Les Princes (First film of Gatlif's Roma trilogy)  
Marian (1996) 
Mondo (another Gatlif film) 
Orb ("Országalma") 
Queen of the Gypsies   
Queen of the Gypsies ("Tabor ukhodit v nebo") 
Romani Kris - Gypsy Law ("Romani kris - Cigánytörvény) 
Romazsaru 
Sitting Ducks (2003) 
Swing (2002/I) 
Szent ügyek (note: not on IMDB, search Google)   
The Crazy Stranger ("Gadjo dilo," third film of Gatlif's Roma trilogy)  
Time Of the Gypsies ("Dom za vesanje")   
   
Documentaries:  

A 100 tagú cigányzenekar a Hösök terén 
Ahonnan kibillegett az Isten (note: not on IMDB, search Google) 
American Gypsy: A Stranger in Everybody's Land   
As God Wishes ("Ahogy az Isten elrendeli") 
Behind the Music (director: Remmelt Lukkien) 
Black and White in Colour ("Cernobílá v barve") 
Carpati: 50 Miles, 50 Years   
Ceija stojka (http://web.archive.org/web/19991004233542/http://www.afc.at/1998/FILMS98/Documentary/Ceija+Stojka.html 
Chasing Away the Plague ("Progonvane na chumata") 
Ciganos 
Cigány elöítéletek 
Cigányok 
Ciganska romansa 
Csatkai búcsú (note: not on IMDB, search Google) 
Cséplö Gyuri 
Curse on the Gypsies (In Search of History) (note: not on IMDB, search Google)  
DALLAS (note: I couldn't find too much more about this than the name - it's a Hungarian film) 
Die Straßen der Roma (note: not on IMDB, search Google)   
Django Legacy (note: not on IMDB, search Google) 
Flamenco (de Carlos Saura) 
Flamenco Women 
Gelem Gelem (note: not on IMDB, search Google) 
Gipsy Kings: Tierra Gitana (note: not on IMDB, search Google; http://www.gipsykings.com
Gyásztörés (note: not on IMDB, search Google) 
Gypsies (1961, Poland, note: not on IMDB, search Google)   
Gypsies (2001,  http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000056F1C/qid=1118134251/sr=1-5/ref=sr_1_5/103-3039414-3311819?v=glance&s=video 
Gypsies' Fortune (note: not on IMDB, search Google) 
Gypsies: The Other Americans (note: not on IMDB, search Google) 
Gypsy Heart 
Gypsy Holocaust ("Porrajmos") 
Hol fogunk ma aludni (note: not on IMDB, search Google)   
Kiskanizsa (note: not on IMDB, search Google) 
Meddö 
Megölték ártatlan családom (note: not on IMDB, search Google) 
Mika (directed by Gábor Péter, note: not on IMDB, search Google) 
Opre Roma: Gypsies in Canada (note: not on IMDB, search Google)   
Porraimos: Europe's Gypsies in the Holocaust 
Romathan: Home of the Roma (note: not on IMDB, search Google) 
Sövények mellett (note: not on IMDB, search Google) 
Suspino: A Cry for Roma (note: not on IMDB, search Google)   
T'an Bahktale! (Good Fortune To You!): Roma (Gypsies) In Russia (note: not on IMDB, search Google)  
The Romany Trail, Part 1 - Gypsy Music into Africa (note: not on IMDB, search Google) 
The Romany Trail, Part 2 - Gypsy Music into Europe (note: not on IMDB, search Google)   
Tiszta fekete (note: not on IMDB, search Google) 
Wasteland ("Auf der Kippe") 

Also look at: www.iwf.de/Navigation/Service/IWF-Veranstaltungen/Vortragsreihen/Menschen,_Laender,_Medien/programm_roma.pdf  

Feature Films involving Roma / Having Roma as characters:  

Blue Moon (1998) 
Caravan (1971) 
Chocolat 
Koportos 
Love Potion No. 9 
Nincs itthon az isten (note: not on IMDB, search Google)   
Nyócker (a little hard-hitting, but an excellent movie)
Snatch
The Devils, the Devils ("Diably, diably")
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
The Man Who Cried   
Van Helsing

TV Series involving Roma / Having Roma as characters:  

Angel: 5x5/Santuary (the TV Series); Season 1
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 2, episode 21, May 12, 1998   
Karmelita (2005, http://www.serials.ru/main/en/karmelita.html http://www.inter.ua/ru/serials/karmelita/ )
The League of Gentlemen (1999-2002)
The Waltons: The Gypsies; season 1, episode 19, Feb 1, 1973

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Absolute Cheapest (Even Free!) Cell Phone Plans, 2015 Edition


While your bill may not be $20k per month, you are almost
certainly paying way more for your cell phone than you should.

One of my most popular posts ever was my post last year on the cheapest (and yet still awesome) cell phone plans available in the US - many thousands of people read it, and many commented to thank me on it or add additional info. Since it's been about a year and there are new offers out there (and because I have more personal experience with some of the companies I'll tell you about), I figured it was time for an update, with the newest, best, and/or cheapest plans available right now, in April 2015!

First, the background:

Last year, I helped my parents and my wife cut the cord from the Death Star (i.e., AT&T Mobile) - prior to making the change, we were paying $200+ per month for two dumb phones and two smart phones on a family plan, and we didn't even have unlimited minutes. Now, my dad is paying about $0.50/month for his dumb phone plan, and my wife, my mom, and I are each paying $0/month for our smart phone plans - that's right, 100% free.

So, from $200 per month to $0.50 per month, for the four of us - that isn't a typo.

How much are you paying? If you're in the US, you're paying too much, and you're paying a lot more than the rest of the developed world is. The minimum service packages typically available in the USA do not come at a minimum price point:


Furthermore, US customers pay a lot more on average than customers in other advanced countries:


"But wait - surely we're getting more, if we're paying more, right?" you say. "Wrong," I reply. Here's a cost comparison that prices what the same level of usage would cost in each country:


So, you're paying a lot more for your cell phone than people in other countries are. What can you do about it?

I have done a lot of research into the current offerings out there, and I've found some really innovating pricing done by small companies - many of whom offer much, MUCH better deals than the big 4 in the USA (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint). As I don't want all that research and knowledge to go to waste, I figured I'd write an overview of what I found and detail the best cell phone deals available (as of April 2015) for a bunch of different consumer archetypes - the odds are that you fall into one of the below buckets, and the odds are that you can save A LOT of money compared to your current cell phone bill.

(Disclaimer: My wife, my mom, and I are all on FreedomPop, my dad is on LycaMobile, my father-in-law is on RingPlus, and my mother-in-law is on BYO Wireless. I was not paid any money by any company for this post, nor do I receive any referral fees. I detail any personal experiences with the companies I've had below; I have not had personal experiences with all the below-listed companies. Also, none of the below prices include possible taxes, fees, etc., so your monthly bill from any of them might be a little higher than detailed below - e.g., when I was on RingPlus's $10/month plan, my total bill was $12.15/month, which is pretty typical.)

All of the below plans are prepaid plans (as prepaid cell plans are far cheaper than contract plans), but that means that you have to pay full price for your phone up-front (I recommend buying a used or refurbished phone, as they are perfectly functional at a substantial discount). However, even paying full price for a phone, you'll be saving a lot of money over the course of a two year contract with one of the big companies. So, I don't want to hear any complaints about how much a phone costs. You're saving oodles of money in the long-run.

Alrighty, let's save you some serious money - and if you want to support the blog, feel free to donate a portion of your savings via PayPal via the email address in the upper right part of the page ;)

This Year's Winner: Free Service for Light/Moderate Smart Phone Users with Spring LTE Coverage: FreedomPop


My recommended plan: Their free plan - 200 minutes, 500 texts, and 500MB of 4G data for $0 per month. If you connect with your other friends on FreedomPop (or with other FreedomPop users via this Facebook group), you can get 50 extra MB per month per friend, up to 500MB additional free, per month. So, you can get up to 1GB of data free per month.
The Phone: In the past year, FreedomPop's phone choices have gone from pretty bad to quite good. FreedomPop will happily sell you a refurbished Samsung Galaxy S3 or S4 or an iPhone 5, or you can bring your own (fully-paid off) Sprint-compatible phone, if it's on this list. If you're bringing a phone that requires a SIM card, you'll need a Sprint CDMA SIM card, which is easiest to order from Ting, strangely enough. When they added my beloved Google Nexus 5 to their BYOD list, I jumped ship immediately from RingPlus to FreedomPop, to take my monthly cell phone bill down to $0. Note that bringing your own device does incur a one-time $20 activation fee.
The Good: Yes, Virginia, you can get totally free smart phone service, and it should be enough for you if you're a light/moderate user. The service works great anywhere that Sprint has an LTE signal, and Sprint is working hard to improve their network and expand their LTE coverage, so FreedomPop's coverage is only going to get better going forward. Due to their VOIP setup, FreedomPop calls, texts, and data also work anywhere there's a WiFi signal - not just a Sprint signal. If you set your phone up to do VOIP calls and texts over Google Hangouts instead of over FreedomPop's network (which is what I do), then you can have unlimited minutes and unlimited texts for free, as long as you don't go over your monthly free data allotment.
The Bad: It runs on Sprint's network, which, despite recent improvements, isn't be best network out there. FreedomPop's VOIP voice often fails to work on Sprint's 2G/3G network, which is why I only recommend FreedomPop if you live in an area with Sprint LTE. (Emergency calls go over Sprint's [or Verizon's] normal network, so that will always work anywhere there's any signal.) And if you live in an area covered by Sprint Spark (like me - I get 38Mbps down and 10Mbps up with a ping of 48ms - on Sprint!) and have a Sprint Spark-capable phone (I'd recommend the Google Nexus 5 or the LG G2), the service is really quite excellent. However, to some extent, you get what you pay for - though I've never had a problem bringing a device to FreedomPop, setup does require some technical savvy, and their customer service is rather slow. You also have to pay attention that FreedomPop doesn't add on extra (non-free) services, and you have to disable auto top-up in order to be sure to never be charged anything for your phone service. Finally, if you do go over your free allotment, their per-minute and per-megabyte charges are higher than the other options here (they've got to make money somehow, after all). There's also no roaming off of Sprint's network, but I see this as less of a problem, given that FreedomPop also works over WiFi.
The Verdict: I think FreedomPop definitely offers the best value of any of the plans on this page (which is why I'm now with them). With the greatly improved BYOD program, the availability of top-tier (if slightly dated) phones like the Google Nexus 5, LG G2, Samsung Galaxy S4, and iPhone 5, the ever-improving Sprint network, and up to 1GB of data per month for FREE, FreedomPop is a much bigger contender in this year's ranking, which is why I give FreedomPop my recommendation for most users out there (especially if paired with a great Sprint Spark phone like the Google Nexus 5 or LG G2), unless you use your phone a lot in an area with no Sprint LTE or WiFi, or if you REALLY need a TON of mobile data (but if you can get good-enough service for free, surely you can cut back a little on your data usage, no?).

[Post first-draft edit: Although most people that I have signed up for FreedomPop have had no problems with their service, it just wouldn't work for my father-in-law - neither his home internet connection nor the Sprint towers near his house seemed capable of maintaining a high-quality VOIP call over FreedomPop's network. So, I moved him and his Sprint phone to RingPlus, which is probably my second-favorite low-cost Sprint MVNO. If FreedomPop isn't working for you, try taking your Sprint phone to RingPlus - they offer a wide selection of low-cost plans and are a great carrier. Or, you could also try Ting (described below) - they're more expensive than RingPlus, but they have extras like voice and text roaming on Verizon.]

Dirt-Cheap Per-Minute Service for Grandma and Grandpa: LycaMobile


My recommended plan: Their pay as you go plan (5 cents per voice minute; 4 cents per text; 6 cents per megabyte of data.) Based on what I see in dad's account, it looks like incoming calls are still 2 cents per minute (their old pricing), while outgoing calls are now 5 cents per minute. [Note: last year, Lycamobile announced that top-ups would expire after 90 days regardless of use, but Lycamobile seems to have changed its mind, as that is no longer in their terms and conditions, and my dad's credit hasn't expired. But, they might decide to reinstate that policy - with prepaid phones, anything is possible.]
The Phone: Any unlocked GSM phone (i.e. any phone that is unlocked and compatible with AT&T or T-Mobile). These kinds of dumb phones can be bought used for $20 or less, or you may even have some of these lying around in a drawer somewhere.
The Good: Dirt-cheap per-minute cell phone service. LycaMobile is also the only prepaid service I know of where your credit doesn't expire after a certain period of time (e.g. after 30 or 90 days), as long as you make 1 phone call or send 1 text every 90 days. Since my dad only uses about 25 minutes per month, dad's monthly bill with LycaMobile is $0.50-$1 per month. Fantastic. LycaMobile uses T-Mobile's network (and it includes 4G access where available), so coverage is pretty good, especially in cities.
The Bad: The per-minute text and data rates are higher than some of the other options on this list, so I don't recommend this for a smart phone user. Also, even though their coverage is nationwide, you can only sign up if you have an address in a city. For example, my parents in rural Tennessee couldn't sign up for this plan directly - I had to have the SIM cards shipped to me in DC and had to sign them up with a DC phone number, though the service works fine for them in Tennessee.
The Verdict: This is a great plan for people like Grandma and Grandpa, who don't use many minutes, don't need much/any texting or data, and just want a simple dumb phone with very basic, cheap service. Other options (on the Sprint network, if you prefer that to T-Mobile) are with RingPlus - they have a $0.99/month plan with 10 minutes or a $1.99/month plan with 50 minutes.

Cheap, Unlimited Smart Phone Service (if you can live with Sprint's 3G): Republic Wireless


My recommended plan: Unlimited everything (including 3G only data) for $25/month.
The Phone: If you're going with the cheaper 3G plan, I'd recommend the Moto G for $149.
The Good: People say (I don't know from personal experience) that the service is good, and that the customer service is excellent. My brother is on Republic Wireless with a Moto G and is very pleased with his experience thus far. Republic does offer some roaming (you can check their coverage map), so it may even be a good option for those of you in more rural areas.
The Bad: I wouldn't say it's bad, but it is a reality of using Republic Wireless - they want you to connect to WiFi at home, work, and wherever else you can. When you're connected to WiFi, they route all your calls and data through WiFi, which is much cheaper for them. They consider WiFi to be your primary cell phone connection, and the actual cell service as a backup for when you're not near WiFi. Finally, I don't like the fact that I can't bring my own phone (e.g. my beloved Google Nexus 5).
The Verdict: If I had a teenager, this plan with the Moto G is almost certainly what I'd get for them - it's hard to argue with unlimited everything for $25, if you are content with Sprint 3G data speeds. Republic Wireless's roaming offers coverage in many areas not covered by the above companies that don't have roaming agreements. If you don't want/need mobile data, Republic Wireless also has a plan that is unlimited talk and text (but no mobile data) for $10/month.

Inexpensive, Unlimited Smart Phone Service (with Sprint's 4G LTE): Republic Wireless


My recommended plan: Unlimited everything (including up to 5GB of 4G LTE data) for $40/month.
The Phone: They will sell you a 2nd gen Moto X for $399 (which is a decent price for an excellent phone). Since the Moto G is 3G only, you have to have the Moto X for this plan.
The Good: The same as the above, with the addition of 4G LTE data (up to 5GB per month, and slowed after that).
The Bad: Same as the above.
The Verdict: An excellent option if you want an excellent phone and unlimited everything with 4G LTE service, without totally breaking your bank. Republic Wireless's roaming offers coverage in many areas not covered by the above companies that don't have roaming agreements.

Inexpensive (but metered) Service, with Free Voice and Text Roaming on Verizon: Ting


My recommended plan: There is only one plan, and it scales with your usage as detailed here.
The Phone: They have the largest variety of phones available for sale of any of the companies listed on this page, including recently-launched phones like the Samsung Galaxy S5, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and others. You can also bring almost any Sprint phone, and I'd recommend buying a Google Nexus 5 or 6 from Google and taking it to Ting to use.
The Good: Huge variety of phones (and the ability to bring your own). People say (I don't know from personal experience) that the service is good, and that the customer service is excellent. Ting offers free voice and text roaming on Verizon, so they have voice and text (not data) coverage practically everywhere. Your monthly bill scales to your actual usage, so if you use very little in one month, your bill shrinks dramatically, and then goes back to normal the next month.
The Bad: They don't have any unlimited service plan options, and their service is way more expensive than FreedomPop's free service.
The Verdict: If you're not an extremely heavy cell phone user but want 4G (and/or want a wider selection of phones), Ting will likely save you money and will definitely offer you more phone options than Republic Wireless. They also offer the absolute newest phones, if you're not content with FreedomPop's slightly dated phones. If you're in rural America, their roaming deal with Verizon has you covered for voice and text, but not data. Ting also just a launched a GSM-based service on T-Mobile's network, but since T-Mobile's coverage is often worse than Sprint's, I can't really recommend their GSM service.

If You HATE Sprint but Want Loads of Data for Cheap: T-Mobile Monthly4G


My recommended plan: 100 Minutes, Unlimited Texts, and Unlimited Data (up to 5GB at 4G speeds) for $30/month.
The Phone: Any unlocked GSM phone will work, though obviously, you'd want one compatible with T-Mobile's 4G LTE service. Might I recommend the Google Nexus 5?
The Good: T-Mobile earns props for being the only company of the big 4 that earns a spot on my list at all, even if it is a bit of a niche plan. If you simply HATE Sprint irrationally (or if Sprint's coverage in your area is particularly bad), this plan is a cheap way to get lots of data.
The Bad: Very low number of minutes (not a problem for me, but a problem for some/many). This plan is only available from Wal-Mart or directly from t-mobile.com.
The Verdict: An excellent option for people who want lots of data and don't want to / can't use Sprint, and/or who already have an unlocked GSM smart phone they can use with this service. I had an out-of-contract Samsung Galaxy S2 from AT&T and used it on this plan for several months until the phone finally broke (when I replaced it with a Google Nexus 5 and switched to an even-cheaper RingPlus plan, and then to FreedomPop after that). However, I'll note that T-Mobile's coverage is often quite poor outside of cities.

LTE Data in Rural America: Page Plus Cellular


Good news for those of you who live in the middle of nowhere and simply HAVE to have 4G LTE data - this past year, Verizon finally opened up it's LTE network to a company other than Verizon, and that company is Page Plus Cellular. With Page Plus, you can get access to Verizon's LTE network for a good deal less than what Verizon charges. The downside to Page Plus is that the LTE speed is capped at 5 Mbps - while that's fast enough for most purposes, it's a lot slower than the 15+ Mbps you'd see on Verizon's LTE network or the 60+ Mbps you'd see on Verizon's XLTE network.

That said, Page Plus may be in the process of being shut down - so soon,  the only prepaid options for Verizon LTE (also at capped speeds like Page Plus) might be Straight Talk and TracFone. (/sarcasm/ I'm SURE it's just a coincidence, but the parent company for both Straight Talk and TracFone [which, also coincidentally, just launched LTE service on Verizon's network] recently bought Page Plus, so this probably has nothing to do with buying up and then shutting down a competitor. /sarcasm/). It will be a shame if Page Plus disappears, because it offers a much wider array of plans than either Straight Talk or TracFone.

Oh well - if you live in the middle of nowhere, you've got to take what you can get, I suppose, or give your first born child to Verizon.

Honorable Mention for Verizon Coverage on the Cheap: BYO Wireless


I'm sure some of you out there are like my mother-in-law, who lives in a rural area and wanted Verizon's coverage, but wanted to pay a lot less for it, particularly since she doesn't need unlimited minutes or much data. With BYO Wireless's CDMA network, you can bring your own non-LTE Verizon devices (e.g., an iPhone 4s) and get 2G and 3G Verizon coverage for cheap - for example, my mother-in-law is going with the 100 minutes, 100 texts, and 20MB of data plan for $5/month, or with the 250 minutes, 250 texts, and 50MB of data plan for $10/month on Verizon's network. There's no Verizon 4G with BYO Wireless, but there's no cheaper way to get coverage on Verizon's network, if that's a priority for you. Setup was very easy - just enter the IMEI of the phone, follow the instructions, make a phone call, and bam - my mother-in-law was up and running with the exact same service she had before in just 5 minutes, but she is now paying $5-10/month instead of $80/month. BYO Wireless also offers GSM coverage through T-Mobile's network (and that includes LTE), but I think their real value is in their low-cost access to Verizon's network. If you want a bit more data on Verizon but are still OK with 3G speeds, Red Pocket Mobile offers 300 minutes, unlimited texts, and 1GB of 3G data on Verizon for $20/month, which is also a pretty good deal.

So, that's what I found - have you found an even better deal? If so, let me know in the comments.

(FYI - the best list of all MVNOs available in the USA is probably this one right here - if you explore that list and find an awesome deal I that I overlooked, be sure to let me know in the comments.)

Also, the above obviously only applies to my American readers - but if you're from another country and have found a sweet cell phone deal, feel free to share that in the comments as well.

[Post first-draft edit/warning: Sprint has changed their system for how they check whether phones are eligible to be activated on a Sprint MVNO, and there are reports that Sprint is falsely rejecting a lot of phones for their MVNO services. So, to be safe, I'd recommend either buying your phone directly from either Google/Apple/Sprint or the company above that you want to do business with, OR get the seller (if you're buying a used phone via Ebay, Amazon, Craigslist, etc.) to send you the ESN of the phone they're selling before you buy so you can check to make sure it is able to activate via the Ting ESN checker, RingPlus ESN checker, or FreedomPop ESN checker. But, in the past couple of weeks, Sprint seems to have fixed most of the activation problems they were having, so I'm hoping this won't be much of an issue moving forward - but, I would still check the ESN of a phone before buying it.]