Palm Pre Out, Employee Referral Plans Left Hanging


It’s not only the SERO users, but the Simply Everything Plus users as well. If you log into the Simply Everything Plus page on Sprint, you’re greeted with this message:

Because of unprecedented demand, the Palm Pre is not yet available to Everything PlusSMReferral Program shoppers.

Which, actually is just a polite way of saying “Sorry, you can’t get them yet,  because there are suckers willing to pay more for them right now and our bean counters say we make more money off of them”

Fine, I don’t have a problem with that, business is business. At least throw us a bone and let us pre-order or put down a deposit so we can get one when they do become available!


Speaking of suckers willing to pay more for them right now, if you check eBay, there are phone selling for nearlt $600, the full retail price of the phone without contract.  I’m not aware of any outages right now, but it seems like the fat populus just doesn’t want to leave their nice comfy chair to get the phones.


Rapid Repair Guides have also posted their disassembly of the phone, and estimated that the cost in components only (in bulk of course) is around $170. Not too bad, good job to Palm for making the Pre attractively price for those under contract, unlike the $600 iPhone when it first came out.

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SERO 500 + Palm Pre, part II

In my previous post, I discussed somehow squirreling a Palm Pre onto my excellent SERO 500 plan.

As promised, I went to a local Sprint store and asked one of their sales agents if I could activate a non-contractual Palm Pre (purchased at the full retail price) on the SERO 500 plan. The agent was very understanding, and agreed that they were all instructed to NOT activate any Palm Pre’s unless the plan has the word “Everything” in it. He also said that while Sprint stores would be well stocked, Best Buy locations would be getting around a max of 5 per store. He then told me that if I did want to get a Palm Pre activated on SERO I should buy one at Best Buy at the non-contract price and attempt to activate it online.  

Apparently he doesn’t know if there are any specific checks in their system to disallow activating the Palm Pre yourself, but it would most likely not work and ask you to call customer service. What he said next suprised me: apparently there are around 35000 customer service reps in call centers – he suggested that not all of them know the policy or care about the policy and I would have a very good chance of getting it activated that way.

To add some relief – he then told me that the Palm Pre should be available for employee-referral type plans after 60 days from launch, much like the Instinct was. Happy Pre-hunting!

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SERO 500 + Palm Pre

The Palm Pre – supossed real competition for the iPhone with true multitasking and oodles of other cool features – isn’t going to be available for SERO users. For those that don’t know, SERO is an older employee referral plan that has:

  • Unlimited data
  • Unlimited text messaging
  • Unlimited picture and MMS messaging
  • between 500-unlimited voice calling
  • Unlimited roaming
  • 7PM Nights and Weekends
  • Unlimited nights and weekends

The most basic plan of $30 (around $35 after taxes) is for 500 minutes, which is plenty for me.  Most of my calls are nights and weekends anyways, and I have never exceeded 100 minutes of peak usage. 

The downside is that Sprint says with the upcoming Palm Pre, you must upgrade to a plan with “Everything” in it such as “Simply Everything” or “Everything Plus” – this is assuming that you want the $200 in rebates and the $150 in instant discount for extending your contract to get the Palm Pre at a decent price of $200 in contract. So…what if I don’t want to extend my contract? What if I pay full price for the phone and activate it, will it work?

So I started a chat session with an online Sprint CSR to see if I could purchase a Palm Pre out of contract at full price ($549) to activate on my (awesome) SERO 500 plan. After explaining that no, I wasn’t interested in extending my contract, I got this response back:

…no guarantee that this will allow you to work with this plan due to the plan being out of before the device came out.

At this point I gave up and decided I’ll go to a Sprint store and ask in person. Results soon!

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Secure, fast, low-resource file delivery

Here’s the problem. I have a handful of files between 500MB-800MB that I need to host up on my website. I need to get these files to people that belong to a certain vBulletin community, and only people of that vBulletin community. Furthermore, the people of that community aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer, so it has to be easy. I have limited resources, which include a shared LAMP webserver, and a 150/150 VPS.

The requirements? Just a few:

  • Must be able to track users to sessions to monitor and log abuse
  • Links generated should be anti-leech and secured with one-time use tokens
  • Links generated can only be accessible from this vBulletin community
  • Links must be easy to use

The limitations? It’s like being handcuffed to a telephone pole:

Things I’ve tried, and failed to work:

  • Doing the classic PHP readfile() and writing to the buffer
    • Far too slow
    • Persistant PHP session isn’t nice to shared hosting
    • readfile() in lighttpd and Apache cause the process to consume massive amounts of memory for large files, doesn’t work in VPS
    • More than 5 users or so and the load spikes to high heaven. Server /suicides
  • Using lighttpd and mod_secdownload
    • Far faster than PHP readfile()
    • Will only work on VPS as shared hosting is Apache only
    • If you don’t have enough RAM (which I don’t on the VPS) – the process with explode and hang. I can’t kill it, and the server refuses connections until the watchdog resets the process or until I reboot the VPS. Server /suicides again.
  • Using mod_rewrite in conjunction with rewritemap and prg in Apache
    • Sounds perfect – you can create tokens, and then revoke them with the rewritemap program, then use mod_rewrite to hide path source!
    • …Until you realize that you need to modify your apache.conf to specify the rewritemap program (requires root or sudo, not happening on either VPS or shared)
    • Your rewrite program is executed on server start, and is persistent – which is not allowed on shared hosting anyways. I /suicide
  • Apache with mod_xsendfile
    • Can’t install custom modules on Apache in shared or VPS hosting
    • Apache is still a fat hog of a server, and using Apache to send binary files is about as efficient as using Humvees for mass transit.
  • Dynamic mod_rewrite definitions in .htaccess files
    • Use a manual lockfile with a SQL database to dynamically generate .htaccess mod_rewrite definitions
    • Each rewrite entry for a unique URL a time limit
    • Each successful request for token updates both the database and the .htaccess file
    • This seems like the best solution – it will work with the most hosting environments too
    • This behavior is basically emulating mod_secdownload for lighttpd in Apache with mod_rewrite

The last entry (emulating mod_secdownload in Apache with mod_rewrite) looks good, and is probably going to be what I’m going to use – I’ll be posting the results here as soon as I finish coding it. Weeeee!

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    Fears of swine flu worse than swine flu itself

    Why is everyone absolutely going nuts. Each day, 2700 people die of malaria, but it doesn’t make national news. To date, less than 30 people have died of swine flu, oh, sorry, H1N1, and out of that 30  or so, only one has died in the US, and it wasn’t a US citizen to begin with. It was an infant that came from Mexico.

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    Wee new dev box

    Recently ordered up a pair of Opteron 280‘s to stick in my GT24 – looking forward to having a dev box. Too bad it doesn’t support hardware virtualization – otherwise it’d be an ESX box.

    Additionally, here’s a picture of the live network traffic on my box – it is generated with MRTG and cron and shows the rate of network traffic on my internet interface on my home router. You can see it on my “Network Usage Graph” on the right ->

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    Feeding the sharks

    In hopes that a spam spider will grab these websites and spam them up (for a little interwebnets experiment), i’m going to post these links here. Pay no attention to them if you’re human.

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