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  1.    #1  
    This is my second review on off-grid living with the Palm Pre. My first review was written 3 days after I received the Pre on rollout day June 6th. As of Saturday the 20th I have now had the Palm Pre for 2 weeks. As I said in my first review, I am nowhere near the typical Pre user. My needs are unique and therefore my smartphone has to be unique as well. I live on a completely off-grid 40 acre ranch in Central Texas. We raise Pure Longhorn cattle, a milking Holstein, sheep, rabbits, chickens, and yellow blackmouth curr dogs. We are not anti-technology, but we examine every technology very closely to see if it will actually benefit our simple lifestyle. We live our lives very deliberately, and we know that most supposed "time-saving" technologies have actually created a society of slaves to the machines, and we seriously examine whether a device or technology is actually offering us any benefits or if it just becomes another toy to be serviced by its human slaves.

    I did a lot of study and comparison shopping before I decided on the Pre. Again, my family lives completely off-grid. What power we do use comes from our small solar array, and we do occasionally run a generator. I am writing this on a small Acer laptop using wireless radio internet from the nearest small town. I am a writer, I edit a few fairly large websites, and I am an Agrarian blogger. I receive a lot of communications and correspondence from people all over the world, and I need to be able to constantly stay on top of my correspondence while still remaining free to work on my ranch and live the life I preach about and love. It had gotten to the point that I generally spent at least 5 and sometimes up to 8 hours a day in our small cabin on the internet. I needed a smartphone tool and not a toy. When you live on a ranch, you appreciate tools and you know tools have a purpose. I wasn't just out for the newest gadget, I have been looking for a way to accomplish very specific tasks in very specific ways. I needed a tool that would hold up to the rigors of what I do, and that would allow me to do things while I work on the ranch. I know that there are fanboys and tech geeks out there who couldn't wait to break down the Pre and analyze every line of code, etc. I know that there are folks who just want a great platform on which to run multiple apps and games. I basically needed a mobile internet, email, and texting tool that would also provide mountains of information at my fingertips - instantly. I'm not disparaging other phones or other people, but I needed a tool that would be able to respond to my very unique needs.

    The Pre has been all that I could have asked for, and more. Here are some snippets of what I do with my phone...

    *I am able to snap pictures as I work and immediately text or email them to interested parties.

    *A couple of days ago I sold a heifer (a young cow that has not yet dropped a calf) to a friend halfway across the country, then he paid me via Paypal and I received payment and notification on my phone - all within a half an hour, and I never had to get on the laptop.

    *I purchase goods and supplies, on online stores and on ebay, directly from my phone. And I can do this purchasing on regular websites, not just on special "mobile phone enabled" websites. None of this costs me any more money with the Sprint Everything Data program.

    *I keep in constant contact with my family, the members of our agrarian community here, and many other people via text messaging and email.

    *We live in tornado alley, and Central Texas is well known for severe weather, tornadoes, and flash floods. I am able to constantly monitor the weather, and even watch up to the minute detailed radar, wherever I am.

    *Just the other day, a lady from our community was traveling three hours to Austin to go pick her son up at the airport. I was able to track his flight on my pre and provide her up to the minute updates as to his progress and his arrival time.

    *We don't have a television, and we rarely watch it, but I am able to sit on my front porch in the summer evening breeze and watch The History Channel, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and dozens of other stations - all via my Wi-Fi or the Sprint Network on Sprint Premier TV - right on my Palm Pre. I know my father's Iphone won't do that!

    *I am able to keep up to date on news that affects my family, and that I need to feature or discuss on my websites and blogs. The Palm Pre also multitasks, so often I am doing all or many of the things I am mentioning here AT THE SAME TIME!

    *I have often used the Sprint GPS and Locator features for finding the nearest gas (and lowest prices) in our area - since we have four towns near us, all in different directions. My wife has used the GPS services for finding flea markets and yard sales, and we have used it to find other addresses when we have to go to town. My wife and I also both have roadside assistance via the phone, which is great to know.

    *I use the alarm to remind me of things I need to do, and I use the memos to write down sku numbers of fencing so I won't forget it before I get up to the register at Tractor Supply.

    *I have been able to seamlessly sync with Itunes and pull down my music into the phone.

    *I love the pull out keyboard, and I have to say that this is one of the great selling points to me with the phone. I am 6'3" and 235 lbs and I find the keyboard easy to use and I can type quite quickly on it.

    *Oh!, and I use Pandora... almost every day. After a hard, hot day of work, I like to put on some Original Jazz Band, Jim Cullum Jazz Band radio, or Baroque music, or Jerry Jeff Walker, or even Fiddler on the Roof as I relax on the porch.

    And here's another point... I live in Central Texas where it very well might be 104 degrees and high humidity. I might be soaked through to the bone with sweat, and I have yet to have had a single glitch or problem with the Pre. I did purchase the inexpensive replacement insurance in case I drop the Pre in a cattle tank, but I don't think I will need it. This is one tought phone. After I read all the complainers whining about the flip-open power door, I was worried. But seriously, that was just ridiculous. My main concern is that the dog will chew it up. I think only someone with serious ham hands would break this phone "accidentally".

    Now, I probably don't use half of the utility of this phone. I don't know all the secret hacks and I have yet to play any real games on it. I am satisfied with the apps that are available, even if I am looking forward to what new stuff will be coming out in the future. I don't know how to jailbreak, nor do I know what a "clean ESN" is. I don't use the calendar, and I don't use all the fancy syncing features with Google or Facebook. I do Twitter (so check me out on Twitter: mbunker), but I am pretty knew at that.

    Ok, so that is my review of the phone. Not much I would change about it. I hope to see some more Apps and some of the fixes that have been proposed/promised in upcoming updates, but I am completely pleased and happy with the phone. You Iphone fanboys, wipe the lotion off your hands and come on out here and work with me for a week and see how your phone holds up. You'll have to read a book while I'm watching cable TV on the Pre, but after the week we'll see which phone you would choose!

    Michael Bunker (Salty Off-Grid)
  2. Ezalis's Avatar
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    #2  
    And I thought I was roughing it with my pre at Bonnaroo. Glad the phone lived up to your expectations.
  3. #3  
    Quote Originally Posted by Salty Off-Grid View Post
    You Iphone fanboys, wipe the lotion off your hands and come on out here and work with me for a week and see how your phone holds up.
    Hee hee.
    Treo 600 > Treo 650 > HTC Mogul (*****!) > HTC Touch Pro (***** squared!) > PRE! > Epic
  4. #4  
    Fascinating! Puts me in mind of some Mennonite farmers I met a while back - I had many misconceptions about how "sophisticated" they were regarding technology. They were far from primitive Luddites, like yourself they just refused to allow technology to shape and direct their lives.

    Please post a link to your blog. I, for one, would love to hear more about your off-grid goings on!

    Joe
  5. chafedbm's Avatar
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    #5  
    What part of Central Texas are you in? I live in San Angelo. I love my Pre, but Sprint doesn't have EVDO here
  6. #6  
    Very interesting post. Thanks for sharing not only about how you use your Pre but a bit about a lifestyle I know little about.
  7. #7  
    Sounds great. I'm on the other side of Central TX from you, in Bastrop county. I'm a CA transplant and doing without A/C would be tough. Doing without my Pre would be tough too. I have 36 Boer and Boer/Spanish cross goats, 1 Nubian, 50 or so chickens, peafowl guineas, geese and probably some creatures I've forgotten about. The Pre comes in handy with that good camera. Saturday I went looking for a lost goesling. Found it in a stock tank dead. I tipped the tank over to clean it out and there was a coiled snake. Most of the snakes we get are rat snakes here. But this one was different. Since I had a dead goesling and the snake was striking my boot I dispatched it and took pictures so I could identify it later. Turned out to be an eastern hog nosed snake, beneficial. At least in the future I will avoid killing that type. I also take photos of my electric fence junctions so I can easily pick over what parts I need when wiring. Very handy. My previous camera phones were so poor I could barely tell what I was looking at. I also keep track of worming schedules and notes about individual animals for reference. A very handy gadget here.
  8.    #8  
    Joe,

    I have several blogs. The main blog is michaelbunker.com, but that one is not for the faint of heart. I am currently in the midst of writing an online book about off-grid living (talk about an interesting sentence), so if you are looking to look into the off-griddedness I would recommend my off-grid blog: michaelbunker.com/offgrid.html which is the Center for Agrarian Homesteading Information, which also has a ten part series on off-grid living found on the right hand column.

    Michaelone, we used to catch hognoses and sell them for up to 15.00 a piece! There is a big market for them because they are very gentle and the pet stores love them. Now, we don't kill any snakes but rattlers or moccasins - the rest are all pretty beneficial and they keep down the vermin population. The camera comes in handy identifying animals, edible plants and vegetables, and especially showing cattle to people who are interested in purchasing them. We specialize in Pure Texas Longhorns, so folks will sometimes email me and request pictures.

    ChafedBM, we are not far from you. We are north of Santa Anna in Coleman County. We don't have EVDO either, but we do get a pretty strong signal and I get pretty high speed on the land through the Wi-Fi.

    Thank y'all,

    Michael (Salty Off-Grid)
  9. #9  
    Quote Originally Posted by Salty Off-Grid View Post
    I live on a completely off-grid 40 acre ranch in Central Texas. ... You Iphone fanboys, wipe the lotion off your hands and come on out here and work with me for a week and see how your phone holds up. You'll have to read a book while I'm watching cable TV on the Pre, but after the week we'll see which phone you would choose!

    Michael Bunker (Salty Off-Grid)
    Nice review, thanks. I'm imagining you are not charging the Pre with the energy wasting Touchstone. I'm imagining you probably have a car-charger on your tractor to help keep the Pre "juiced up". I'd like to hear more about this side of things.

    -- Bob
    I'm both super! ... and a doer!
  10.    #10  
    Bob,

    I don't have a tractor and probably will never have one. We hope to move towards using horses, mules, or oxen for working the land and have studied that quite a bit and we don't keep much in traditional plow-type "cultivation". We have large gardens and lots of pasture for the cattle and animals. One of the men in our community has a tractor and he will come disc my fields for now, but I don't have a tractor. We currently produce about 60% or so of our food, and 100% of our meat.

    I did buy the touchstone, but I don't use it all the time and I certainly unplug it when I am not using it. Our solar trailer (mobile solar array) produces quite a bit of power, so I don't mind using the touchstone at night on occasion, but I also charge the Pre in the truck when I have to go to town, and I bypass the touchstone quite often and plug directly from the cord into the Pre - not sure how much more juice the touchstone uses over just the cord. We basically plug things in long enough to charge them, then we unplug them. We use extremely low-wattage LED lights during the hot times, and the rest of the year we use non-electric lamps and candles. We don't use air conditioning at all, but we do use fans and we build for heat management. The root cellar is mighty nice today

    I also have some re-chargeable power units (for inflating tires, jump starting cars, etc.) that have a 12 volt slot and I can use them to charge the Pre.

    Salty Off-Grid
  11. mtgmt's Avatar
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    #11  
    Quote Originally Posted by Salty Off-Grid View Post
    This is my second review on off-grid living with the Palm Pre. My first review was written 3 days after I received the Pre on rollout day June 6th. As of Saturday the 20th I have now had the Palm Pre for 2 weeks. As I said in my first review, I am nowhere near the typical Pre user. My needs are unique and therefore my smartphone has to be unique as well. I live on a completely off-grid 40 acre ranch in Central Texas. We raise Pure Longhorn cattle, a milking Holstein, sheep, rabbits, chickens, and yellow blackmouth curr dogs. We are not anti-technology, but we examine every technology very closely to see if it will actually benefit our simple lifestyle. We live our lives very deliberately, and we know that most supposed "time-saving" technologies have actually created a society of slaves to the machines, and we seriously examine whether a device or technology is actually offering us any benefits or if it just becomes another toy to be serviced by its human slaves.

    I did a lot of study and comparison shopping before I decided on the Pre. Again, my family lives completely off-grid. What power we do use comes from our small solar array, and we do occasionally run a generator. I am writing this on a small Acer laptop using wireless radio internet from the nearest small town. I am a writer, I edit a few fairly large websites, and I am an Agrarian blogger. I receive a lot of communications and correspondence from people all over the world, and I need to be able to constantly stay on top of my correspondence while still remaining free to work on my ranch and live the life I preach about and love. It had gotten to the point that I generally spent at least 5 and sometimes up to 8 hours a day in our small cabin on the internet. I needed a smartphone tool and not a toy. When you live on a ranch, you appreciate tools and you know tools have a purpose. I wasn't just out for the newest gadget, I have been looking for a way to accomplish very specific tasks in very specific ways. I needed a tool that would hold up to the rigors of what I do, and that would allow me to do things while I work on the ranch. I know that there are fanboys and tech geeks out there who couldn't wait to break down the Pre and analyze every line of code, etc. I know that there are folks who just want a great platform on which to run multiple apps and games. I basically needed a mobile internet, email, and texting tool that would also provide mountains of information at my fingertips - instantly. I'm not disparaging other phones or other people, but I needed a tool that would be able to respond to my very unique needs.

    The Pre has been all that I could have asked for, and more. Here are some snippets of what I do with my phone...

    *I am able to snap pictures as I work and immediately text or email them to interested parties.

    *A couple of days ago I sold a heifer (a young cow that has not yet dropped a calf) to a friend halfway across the country, then he paid me via Paypal and I received payment and notification on my phone - all within a half an hour, and I never had to get on the laptop.

    *I purchase goods and supplies, on online stores and on ebay, directly from my phone. And I can do this purchasing on regular websites, not just on special "mobile phone enabled" websites. None of this costs me any more money with the Sprint Everything Data program.

    *I keep in constant contact with my family, the members of our agrarian community here, and many other people via text messaging and email.

    *We live in tornado alley, and Central Texas is well known for severe weather, tornadoes, and flash floods. I am able to constantly monitor the weather, and even watch up to the minute detailed radar, wherever I am.

    *Just the other day, a lady from our community was traveling three hours to Austin to go pick her son up at the airport. I was able to track his flight on my pre and provide her up to the minute updates as to his progress and his arrival time.

    *We don't have a television, and we rarely watch it, but I am able to sit on my front porch in the summer evening breeze and watch The History Channel, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and dozens of other stations - all via my Wi-Fi or the Sprint Network on Sprint Premier TV - right on my Palm Pre. I know my father's Iphone won't do that!

    *I am able to keep up to date on news that affects my family, and that I need to feature or discuss on my websites and blogs. The Palm Pre also multitasks, so often I am doing all or many of the things I am mentioning here AT THE SAME TIME!

    *I have often used the Sprint GPS and Locator features for finding the nearest gas (and lowest prices) in our area - since we have four towns near us, all in different directions. My wife has used the GPS services for finding flea markets and yard sales, and we have used it to find other addresses when we have to go to town. My wife and I also both have roadside assistance via the phone, which is great to know.

    *I use the alarm to remind me of things I need to do, and I use the memos to write down sku numbers of fencing so I won't forget it before I get up to the register at Tractor Supply.

    *I have been able to seamlessly sync with Itunes and pull down my music into the phone.

    *I love the pull out keyboard, and I have to say that this is one of the great selling points to me with the phone. I am 6'3" and 235 lbs and I find the keyboard easy to use and I can type quite quickly on it.

    *Oh!, and I use Pandora... almost every day. After a hard, hot day of work, I like to put on some Original Jazz Band, Jim Cullum Jazz Band radio, or Baroque music, or Jerry Jeff Walker, or even Fiddler on the Roof as I relax on the porch.

    And here's another point... I live in Central Texas where it very well might be 104 degrees and high humidity. I might be soaked through to the bone with sweat, and I have yet to have had a single glitch or problem with the Pre. I did purchase the inexpensive replacement insurance in case I drop the Pre in a cattle tank, but I don't think I will need it. This is one tought phone. After I read all the complainers whining about the flip-open power door, I was worried. But seriously, that was just ridiculous. My main concern is that the dog will chew it up. I think only someone with serious ham hands would break this phone "accidentally".

    Now, I probably don't use half of the utility of this phone. I don't know all the secret hacks and I have yet to play any real games on it. I am satisfied with the apps that are available, even if I am looking forward to what new stuff will be coming out in the future. I don't know how to jailbreak, nor do I know what a "clean ESN" is. I don't use the calendar, and I don't use all the fancy syncing features with Google or Facebook. I do Twitter (so check me out on Twitter: mbunker), but I am pretty knew at that.

    Ok, so that is my review of the phone. Not much I would change about it. I hope to see some more Apps and some of the fixes that have been proposed/promised in upcoming updates, but I am completely pleased and happy with the phone. You Iphone fanboys, wipe the lotion off your hands and come on out here and work with me for a week and see how your phone holds up. You'll have to read a book while I'm watching cable TV on the Pre, but after the week we'll see which phone you would choose!

    Michael Bunker (Salty Off-Grid)
    for someone "off the grid" you sure do more than i and im on the grid lol
    i love it!
    mt
  12. #12  
    Salty Off-Grid - that's such a good review/story I had to tweet it over to Palm.
  13. #13  
    nice write-up!
  14. #14  
    My parents had a small farm back in southwestern Pennsylvania. One of out neighbors (about 5-6 miles away, but definitely a friend) liked his Clydesdale horses for plowing better than the tractor, because he could plow the field sooner with the team than with the tractor. Of course those horses need to be fed, and he really needed a tractor for making and putting up hay. Do you make haystacks?

    (BTW: His horses did real work and he never has time to make them pretty like the Budweiser team.)

    thx, -- Bob
    I'm both super! ... and a doer!
  15.    #15  
    Bob, That's the thing, a Tractor has to be fed too and horse fuel grows right on my land without me having to pump or refine it! Also the horse manure is fertilizer, but the Tractor manure (fumes and bad oil) is worthless. A Tractor is fine I guess if you have hundreds of acres to farm, but if you do small-scale intensive farming, you don't need a tractor. Heck, I know people who farm about 2-3 acres by hand and they produce all of their own food! However, I can look at pictures of some fine tractors on my Palm Pre while my cows graze, if I wanted to.

    We don't do haystacks yet. When we do need hay we buy round bales, but we chose Pure Longhorns because they can survive through dry times on very little outside feed. I can keep 3 Longhorns where you could only keep 1 commercial cow. When i do start horse farming I will do haystacks though.

    Michael
  16. #16  
    But can ya sell me a bale of switchgrass? I'll take a graft of buckwheat, a round of pitchwhirl and a yelm of fescue.....


    oh, and a desk of cheetohs.....



  17. Keegsta's Avatar
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    #17  
    Did you guys see that Palm tweeted a link to this post?

    http://twitter.com/palm
    Drove 3 hours to buy my Palm Pre on day one.
  18. #18  
    Maybe that's why his blog is completely inaccessible. That, or he runs his webserver off of his off-grid lifestyle, and it's only up during the day >.>
  19. #19  
    You seem like a good blog writer... This had me hooked
    Michael Williamson
    palmprehelp@gmail.com
    twitter.com/palmprehelp
    youtube.com/palmprehelp
  20. #20  
    Quote Originally Posted by Keegsta View Post
    Did you guys see that Palm tweeted a link to this post?

    palm (palm) on Twitter
    Yeah I sent it there

    Salty Off-Grid - you're famous on Twitter now
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