[conspire] (forw) [Felton LUG] Re: Positively, absolutely, for-sure shutdown: July 1, 2022

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Apr 7 16:13:16 PDT 2022

The FeltonLUG folks were one of the LUG crowds who keep
ominously telling me, for -years-, that I had wasted! wasted!
wasted! a whole $20 or so on my 2005-era flip phone, because 
all 2G/3G service was going to be switched off, any minute.  

I've had fun razzing them about that.

----- Forwarded message from Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> -----

Date: Thu, 7 Apr 2022 15:51:31 -0700
From: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
To: felton-lug at googlegroups.com
Cc: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
Subject: [Felton LUG] Re: Positively, absolutely, for-sure shutdown: July 1,
Organization: If you lived here, you'd be $HOME already.

Last September, I wrote in this space:

> You know what I'm going to miss, when T-Mobile finally retires
> its 2G/3G mobile telephone service to repurpose transmitter bandwidth
> for 5G?  I'm going to miss all the helpful people confidently telling me
> my 2005 Motorola RAZRv3 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorola_Razr)
> (vendor-unlocked, GSM quad-band) clamshell flip phone is about to
> for-sure, absolutely, tomorrow-if-not-sooner become a useless doorstop.  
> I'll miss it, because that's been amusing for an entire decade.
> At the most recent FeltonLUG meeting, I was confidently told that
> T-Mobile's shutdown would absolutely, for-sure occur in October 2021.
> Oh noes!

On that day in September, I pointed to a T-Mobile announcement that
_finally_ looked like they were going to EOL their 2G/3G service on July
1st, 2022.  Since then, T-Mobile has stuck to that, making sure people
with retro phones like my super-cheap but very high quality 2005
Motorola RAZRv3 flip phone - along with a large number of medical and
other embedded devices reliant on 2G/3G - cannot claim to have been
taken by surprise when cutoff occurs.

Meantime, I'm still enjoying the heck out of having happily relied on my
obsolete yet excellent flip phone (and two identical predecessors, each
costing about $20) for _decades_ while techie types sadly warn me that 
my huge Andrew Jackson-size investment would be lost Real Soon Now
because of imminent shutdown.

Back then (Sept.), I said I was considering moving sideways to real
Linux (not any type of Android) on an open source friendly  PinePhone,
and was watching progress on full software support.

Unlike some past and present competitors (e.g., Openmoko Project's Neo
Freerunner GTA02, Purism Librem5) in developing a credible,, _truly_
Linux-based, _truly_ open-standards, open-source-frendly phone, the
PINE64 community / Pine Store people didn't overpromise.  They set out
to deliver a reasonable, commodity smartphone handset with as few
proprietary hardware bits as possible, and plans to manage the problems
those create.  They deliberately did _not_ promise to develop and
maintain any Linux (or Android) distributions for it, trusting to
friendly distro efforts to meet them halfway.  

  At the core of our philosophy is the notion that PINE64 is a community
  platform. A simplistic point of view, often offered up and referenced
  online, is that ‘PINE64 does hardware while the community does the
  software’.  [...]

  [...] It also means that the hardware developments –
  successes and failures alike – are all in the open. You can follow the
  process on our forum, the IRC, Discord, Matrix, Telegram the online
  conversations log and, in some instances, on our partner projects
  forums. But it also means that anyone who is a part of the community
  gets to shape anything related to the PINE64 project – including the
  Wiki or this website – and so, software development is only one area
  where you can contribute your time and skill. In return for time
  investment, the community gets fair priced devices that developers wish
  to spend their time on.

  Last, but not least, is our belief in supporting existing SoCs for long
  periods of time as well as actively developing new devices based on
  those SOCs.  [...]


In other words, it's a completely public-transparent hardware-development 
community first, a retail firm a distant second, and an end-user support 
organisation really not at all.

This strategy _appears_ to be working well.  The PinePhone is reported
to be now highly usable, if sometimes a little slow (because of slighly
low-spec hardware).  Having learned from the experience, they've now
followed on with the PinePhone Pro -- with twice the RAM, more CPU
grunt, Gorilla Glass, etc.  The current buy-in is $399.

The core storage is eMMC flash, but also it supports hotplug Micro SD, 
so you can, if you wish, have multiple alternative OS builds on
different boot media.  The default load is a somewhat rough ARM port of
Manjaro Linux with "Plasma Mobile" (i.e., KDE5) desktop.  The main CPU
is ARMv8-A (64-bit ARM) architecture Rockchip RK3399 "2x Cortex-A72
cores, 4x Cortex-A53 cores" CPU chip delivered as a single-board
computer with a GPU and other stuff.  Very brief reviews at its
introduction in late 2021/early 2022:

I have an effectively useless, orphaned Neo Freerunner GTA02 in its box
on my kitchen counter, as a reminder that sometimes these efforts fizzle
out and die -- but I'm guesstimating that I could get 5-10 years of
highly satisfactory service life with real Linux for my $399.  

I'm considering this strongly.  (And I have one of my wife's spare
iPhones, that she's kindly given me, sitting around if I order this
puppy and it's delayed past July 1st.)

It's worth comparing:  What's T-Mobile offering me as an "upgrade":

1.  Samsung Galaxy S22+, $43.75/mo for 24 months = $1050.
2.  Samsung Galaxy S22, $54.17/mo for 24 months = $1300.
3.  Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max, $45.84/mo for 24 months = $1100.
4.  Apple iPhone 13 Pro, $41.67/mo for 24 months = $1000.

And so on.  You get the idea.  All of these are no doubt vendor SIM-locked,
with crypto-locked bootloaders to better control the user and prevent
the user from having full authority over the computing device.  Any of
them would lock my family into a 2-year contract.  (One can then cancel,
but the full device price then becomes payable.)

And, roughly speaking, consumer smartphones have at most a 3-year useful
economic life, after which they have no software maintenance and
(usually) cannot be switched to a different software load, so each of
those, amortised, would be $333 - $433 per year of operation.

_Or_ I can get a somewhat beta-software, solidly built, PinePhone Pro 
with amortised annual hardware cost of about $399/5 = $80/year or
better, plus I get software freedom, full control, and real Linux.

Let's look at the commodity retail market, if I wanted a Samsung S22
outside the T-Mobile "special upgrade deal".  Factory-unlocked units on
eBay seem to run about $700-$1200 depending on the sub-model.

I continue to think that commodity Android phones are sucker-bait.

Meanwhile, still loving my $20 RAZRv3.  Until July, when the party ends.

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----- End forwarded message -----

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