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Clear – Super Fast Mobile Internet, Unless You’re Mircowaving

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… or it rains, or it’s windy?

clear-internetHow in the world could I ignore commercials with bubbles floating the skies of downtown, boasting Super Fast Mobile Internet anywhere? The image of those floating bubbles around buildings gives one the impression that coverage is strong, stable, and available everywhere you go.

Wrong.

Do you remember the days of rabbit ears on television sets, and on Friday night during Dallas, tuning the antennas for mom and dad? Maybe you had to grab the roll of foil and wrap those giant wads around the tips of the antennas until your mom just told you to stay standing there because it seems to be working if you hold your hand up and to the right? I imagine if you wore braces it was even more ‘Clear,’ right?

Well, welcome to Clear…

…where we’re going to throw you back 20 years into the past to aim your wireless modem out the window, turn it a skoatch and wait to see if you get more bars, and maybe, if you stand just like you are, you can check your email really quickly, before someone turns on the microwave and completely knocks you offline.

You might be thinking

You may be thinking I’m exaggerating, but I’m not, this is Clear- the Super Fast way to find yourself without internet just about any time of day, but God forbid it happens after 10 PM EST because support is closed.

I purchased Clear the month it launched in Austin, and I can tell you, on the night of installation, we had solid reception of four bars out of five, and that was the last time.  To date (four months later), the most bars we’ve ever been able to get is around three if I stand just right and it’s not raining or windy.

You see, that’s the Clear way of doing internet

Anyone that knows me knows that if I don’t like something, or someone, I have better things to do with my time. But with Clear, it’s different- it’s just that frustrating.

I’ve contacted Clear’s support, and I have spent no less than three hours on the phone with support and advanced support only to be told they would research and call me back.  Maybe they couldn’t get through on our Clear phone because it’s the equivalent to a cell phone with no bars- we’ve never used it because no one can ‘hear you now.’ The modem sits within 2 miles of two towers in opposite directions from our home, but our modem just cannot find those awesome bubbles from the commercials. And speaking of phones, and modems (voip style) there is no battery in the modem- thunderstorm and no electricity? Again, no phone OR internet.

(Sorry, my neighbor just ran their microwave, I didn’t mean to drop on you… I’m totally serious.)

We’re all desperate for alternatives to AT&T and RoadRunner, but I’m here to tell you, Clear isn’t it, and neither is Sprint 4G, because that’s just the Clear network as well.

I wanted to be able to tell all of you to switch, but I cannot, but maybe in the next two years I can say differently, because that’s how long they have to blow all those bubbles you see in the ads… that’s the length of our contract with them.

Clear product rating:

As product reviews go, Clear is Clearly crap. Buyer beware. Trust me, I’m being polite. 🙂

Clear Commercial – look at all those bubbles:

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Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Matt

    March 28, 2010 at 1:07 am

    Per the commercial:

    “CLEAR…brought to you by Lawrence Welk.”

  2. Kyle Simpson

    March 28, 2010 at 10:24 am

    I completely agree on the quality of the home internet service… but I completely disagree on the quality of the mobile internet service.

    I’m also in Austin, and I signed up for the home+mobile the week it launched. Within 3 hrs of trying to set up my home service, I called to cancel it. It was that bad. Exactly as you described. Turns out my modem got it’s best signal when tilted at a 20 degree angle while propped up on a lemon while sitting on my kitchen counter. Everywhere else, it sucked. “Clear”ly, this was not a tenable situation.

    And worse yet, they actually told me that 3.0mbps was the BEST that I could possibly expect from the home service. I told them that for the same price, I’d just keep my Uverse service with my nearly always guaranteed 11mbps speeds. They had no argument to that.

    But, the mobile, that’s a different story. I’ve found it to be awesome. I’ve taken it around town (mostly south and downtown) and never once have I had any less than 3mbps speeds. In fact, a number of times I’ve had anywhere from 6-10mbps speeds. I find that to be amazing considering the crap that 3G mobile service always was. I could not live without this 4G mobile service now, it’s so good.

    But I find it beyond insanity that the home service (with that huge freakin modem) was 1/100 the quality of the mobile service with that small dainty USB modem. It still boggles my mind.

    ——-
    Oh, and while I’m at it, one more rant against Clear. Please hear me on this one. CLEAR STORES YOUR ACCOUNT PASSWORDS IN THEIR SYSTEM IN PLAIN-TEXT. That’s right, no encryption or security at all. I connected to the Chat support to complain because I couldn’t login to their site one evening, and the representative spit out my password in plain-text. I quite literally almost fell out of my chair. I couldn’t believe they would be so irresponsible as to design a system that way.

    Turns out the reason I couldn’t login was because, when I had canceled my home service (but kept my mobile acct), some representative, in all their brilliant wisdom, decided that instead of just changing my existing account, they had to CANCEL my old account and set up a new one. No, they didn’t tell me this is what they were doing. Wouldn’t be so bad except that in creating a new account, they had to pick a new USERNAME for my acct, and so they just appended some random string of characters onto my previous username. Wow, that makes complete sense, right??

    And to top it all off, now that I have this completely retarded new username on my “new” account, they cannot change my username back, because the old username is still attached to the old cancelled account. Oh, and there’s no way to un-cancel that account by the way… yeah, already tried that line of “logic”.

    So, I will never be logging back into Clear’s site, because I have no idea what my username is, nor will I ever. But the good news is, any representative at Clear can log in as me whenever they want, since they all know my password. Awesome, huh?

    • Benn Rosales

      March 28, 2010 at 11:07 am

      I walked over to a public kiosk in the middle of Friday night, OUTDOORS no less – I caught a salesman offf guard by asking him to plug in a modem because hey were showing off those little wireless cards for your laptop, so he did – he got two bars- open air, evening, no obstruction standing OUTSIDE! 2 bars.

  3. Benn Rosales

    March 28, 2010 at 11:08 am

    bubbles….

  4. Lori

    March 28, 2010 at 11:16 am

    I’ve heard really good things about Clear mobile…and terrible things like this about Clear home. Even the Clear representative I spoke with told me Clear home was not a good fit for uploading photos after a wedding or event (compared with the “fancy” Internet connection we have through the cable company). I appreciated his honestly.

    They have way too many sales people, though, and a lot of them are kinda pushy. It’s giving the company a creepy vibe. [[shudder]]

    • Benn Rosales

      March 28, 2010 at 11:32 am

      Lori, both the gent who I purchased Clear from and the support team were told I was reviewing Clear “from the start”- neither were forthcoming at all. I’ve been treated like family by Clear service and support, but forgotten in the resolution like an evil step brother.

      I’ve been offered no resolution by Clear for the problems experienced. Clear has my number, they’re welcome to be forthcoming with me, I am fair, but right now, the bubbles makes whether home or on the go moot as the commercial is blatantly misleading.

  5. Benn Rosales

    March 28, 2010 at 11:36 am

    btw, I’ve never seen a company spend so much money on advertising, and wonder about the ‘positive’ reviews, and to be quite honest, if anyone tells them they heard about Clear here, I get a cash gift card, so mention my name, maybe I’ll get to recoop a nickel or two of this two year contract.

    I had heard stories of Seattle peeps building clear plastic boxes and placing their modems on their roof tops to get the absolutely perfect signal (cuz they’re speed junkies) but now I know why- it’s the only way their modem could find the bubbles.

  6. Larry Schuler

    March 28, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    As with MOST service contracts: Stop using the service, give the company WRITTEN notice, and then STOP PAYING THE BILL at the appropriate time.

    • Benn Rosales

      March 28, 2010 at 12:43 pm

      I’m quite certain that I’ll not be bound to the two year agreement, I understand the nuance of contract law, however, this began as a review, and is ending with the result of the review – how they respond is up to them, it’s never to late to correct bad impressions until it’s to late.

  7. Ralph Bell

    March 28, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    The problem with bubbles….there is two much air between them.

  8. velda

    March 29, 2010 at 11:31 am

    I’ve been with Clearwire since there were only 4 cities in the entire country that had it, long before it became Clear. I have the USB modem too for my laptop and it is fabulous. I have the bundle of voip phone and regular modem for the office and the USB for the laptop. I have had trouble with the office modem since I moved to this office 2 years ago and continued to have problems while they were switching over to the new Clear service; however, now that they have fixed many of the bugs, I’m getting much better service. One of the dilemmas that I face in this particular place is all the metal in the building and the angle of my office to the nearest tower. I must place the modem in a particular place by the back door but I’m getting 4 or 5 bars pretty regular now and at the very least 3 bars. When I typically have trouble is when vans and SUVs park right outside my back door. We believe that the signal bounces. I have on occasion had trouble in severe weather but how often does that happen here? BTW, I’m in Abilene TX. The only other place that I have ever had trouble with the regular modem is at my parent’s home. I have to put the modem in the window. Must be a lot of copper wiring causing the problem, but I have trouble with my cell phone too in their house. All in all, I’d say my satisfaction with Clear is an 8 out of a possible 10 with 10 being a perfect rating.

    • Benn Rosales

      March 29, 2010 at 11:46 am

      Velda, that is an awesome assessment of life with Clear, thanks for your honesty. I think it goes to show you that with a little effort, creativity, and maybe even some duct tape, you can have what the commercial describes.

      Clear is not an advancement in internet, nor is it even equal to what you’ve experienced with internet, it’s dial-up, but worse because it promises to be more than it is.

      • velda

        March 29, 2010 at 1:35 pm

        LOL! That is so funny because before they worked a lot of the bugs out with the new service and before they actually switched off the old service, we did use duct tape to tape the modem up higher on the wall at the top of my back door, which, BTW, is a metal door. 😀

  9. Denise

    March 29, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    I love my Service I have Home-Mobile-Phone, I was able to keep my old number and everything works Great. The mobile sometimes doesn’t work well some places cause its wireless!! just like my GREAT AT&T I Phone that never works and drops half of my calls. Do you remember Verizon when it first came out?? it was a joke to now look at them. There is nobody that even comes close to the speeds that i get with this mobile device. 🙂

  10. Roscoe Property Management

    April 2, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    I live in Austin and have had Clear since early January. I ordered mobile first, and it worked GREAT. The only thing wrong was the pings, but I could live with that. I chugged along for about a month and a half and thought to myself “hey! I’m going to get Clear home, and bundle them together for dirt cheap!”

    Clear home service sucks. I never see anything above 3Mbs down, I average 1-1.5Mbs down. On the other hand, my Clear mobile is amazing. It’s about as fast, or maybe even faster as a Road Runner.

    All in all, I am happy. I pay $50 and change for decent internet, and I have a sluggish home network for simple file sharing and so forth..

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Deepfakes can destroy any reputation, company, or country

(MEDIA) Deepfakes have been around for a few years now, but they’re being crafted for nefarious purposes beyond the original porn and humor uses.

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Deepfakes — a technology originally used by Reddit perverts who wanted to superimpose their favorite actresses’ faces onto the bodies of porn stars – have come a long way since the original Reddit group was banned.

Deepfakes use artificial intelligence (AI) to create bogus videos by analyzing facial expressions to replace one person’s face and/or voice with another’s.

Using computer technology to synthesize videos isn’t exactly new.

Remember in Forrest Gump, how Tom Hanks kept popping up in the background of footage of important historical events, and got a laugh from President Kennedy? It wasn’t created using AI, but the end result is the same. In other cases, such technology has been used to complete a film when an actor dies during production.

The difference between these examples and that latest deepfake technology is a question of ease and access.

Historically, these altered videos have required a lot of money, patience, and skill. But as computer intelligence has advanced, so too has deepfake technology.

Now the computer does the work instead of the human, making it relatively fast and easy to create a deepfake video. In fact, Stanford created a technology using a standard PC and web cam, as I reported in 2016.

Nowadays, your average Joe can access open source deepfake apps for free. All you need is some images or video of your victim.

While the technology has mostly been used for fun – such as superimposing Nicolas Cage into classic films – deepfakes could and have been used for nefarious purposes.

There is growing concern that deepfakes could be used for political disruption, for example, to smear a politician’s reputation or influence elections.

Legislators in the House and Senate have requested that intelligence agencies report on the issue. The Department of Defense has already commissioned researchers to teach computers to detect deepfakes.

One promising technology developed at the University of Albany analyzes blinking to detect deep fakes, as subjects in the faked videos usually do not blink as often as real humans do. Ironically, in order to teach computers how to detect them, researchers must first create many deepfake videos. It seems that deepfake creators and detectors are locked in a sort of technological arms race.

The falsified videos have the potential to exacerbate the information wars, either by producing false videos, or by calling into question real ones. People are already all too eager to believe conspiracy theories and fake news as it is, and the insurgence of these faked videos could be created to back up these bogus theories.

Others worry that the existence of deepfake videos could cast doubt on actual, factual videos. Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University says that deepfakes could lead to “deep denials” – in other words, “the ability to dispute previously uncontested evidence.”

While there have not yet been any publicly documented cases of attempts to influence politics with deepfake videos, people have already been harmed by the faked videos.

Women have been specifically targeted. Celebrities and civilians alike have reported that their likeness has been used to create fake sex videos.

Deepfakes prove that just because you can achieve an impressive technological feat doesn’t always mean you should.

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Red flags to look for when hiring a social media pro

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social Media is a growing field with everyone and their moms trying to become social media managers. Here are a few experts’ tips on seeing and avoiding the red flags of social media professionals.

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If you’re thinking about hiring a social media professional – or are one yourself – take some tips from the experts.

We asked a number of entrepreneurs specializing in marketing and social media how they separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to social media managers, and they gave us some hints about how to spot whose social media game is all bark and no bite.

According to our experts, the first thing you should do if you’re hiring a social media professional is to check out their personal and/or professional social media pages.

Candidates with underwhelming, non-existent, out-of-date, or just plain bad social media pages should obviously get the chop.

“If they have no professional social presence themselves, that’s a big red flag,” says Chelle Honiker, CEO at Athenia Creative.

Another entrepreneur, Paul O’Brien of Media Tech Ventures, explains that “the only way to excel is to practice…. If you excel, why would you not be doing so on behalf of your personal brand?”

In other words, if someone can’t make their own social media appealing, how can they be expected to do so for a client?

These pros especially hated seeing outdated icons, infrequent posts, and automatic posts. Worse than outdated social media pages were bad social media pages. Marc Nathan of Miller Egan Molter & Nelson provided a laundry list of negative characteristics that he uses to rule out candidates, including “snarky,” “complaining, unprofessional” “too personal” “inauthentic,” and “argumentative.”

Besides eliminating candidates with poor social media presence, several of these pros also really hated gimmicky job titles such as “guru,” “whiz,” “ninja,” “superhero,” or “magician.”

They were especially turned off by candidates who called themselves “experts” without any proof of their success.

Jeff Fryer of ARM dislikes pros who call themselves experts because, he says “The top leaders in this field will be the first to tell you that they’re always learning– I know I am!” Steer clear of candidates who talk themselves up with ridiculous titles and who can’t provide solid evidence of their expertise.

According to our experts, some of them don’t even try. To candidates who say “’Social media can’t be measured,’” Fryer answer “yes it can[. L]earn how to be a marketer.”

Beth Carpenter, CEO of Violet Hour Social Marketing, complains that many candidates “Can’t talk about ROI (return on investment),” arguing that a good social media pro should be able to show “how social contributes to overall business success.” Good social media pros should show their value in both quantitative and qualitative terms.

While our experts wanted to see numerical evidence of social media success, they were also unimpressed with “vanity metrics” such as numbers of followers.

Many poo-pooed the use of followers alone as an indicator of success, with Tinu Abayomi-Paul of Leveraged Promotion joking that “a trained monkey or spambot” can gather 1,000 followers.

Claims of expertise or success should also be backed up by references and experience in relevant fields.

Several entrepreneurs said that they had come across social media managers without “any experience in critical fields: marketing, advertising, strategic planning and/or writing,” to quote Nancy Schirm of Austin Visuals. She explains that it’s not enough to know how to “handle the technology.” Real social media experts must cultivate “instinct borne from actual experience in persuasive communication.”

So, if you’re an aspiring social media manager, go clean up those pages, get some references, and figure out solid metrics for demonstrating your success.

And if you’re hiring a social media manager, watch out for these red flags to cull your candidate pool.

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Pinterest fights anti-vaxx info, urges Facebook to follow suit

(SOCIAL MEDIA) With misinformation continuing to spread online, Pinterest is putting their foot down and urging other networks to do the same.

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The World Health Organization calls anti-vaxxers one of the top 10 health threats in the world.

Pinterest decided to do something about misinformation being spread by anti-vaxxers. You can no longer search for vaccines on Pinterest and get any information, pro or con about vaccines.

You’ll get a message, “People have reported Pins from this search. Let us know if you see something that goes against our policies.” And “Sorry, we couldn’t find any Pins for this search.”

Pinterest’s policy prohibits “This includes promotion of false cures for terminal or chronic illnesses and anti-vaccination advice.”

Pinterest is disabling search for vaccines while it finds a better solution to allow material that is appropriate. Users should report pins that are against Pinterest’s policy.

There are ways to get around the general search terms. Type in measles. Fortunately, many of the pins are helpful and promote ways to avoid the measles, namely vaccines. With tons of search variations, there’s almost no way to prevent all misinformation.

The company has publicly urged other social networks to join them in this effort to combat anti-vaxx misinformation. But will they follow suit?

Search Google for the measles vaccine and the search engine provides good information for the most part. The first 10 results when I searched were from legitimate sites, the CDC, WebMD, vaccines.gov and the Mayo Clinic. On Facebook, it’s far less clear if the results from a search are coming from authentic, legitimate sites or anti-vaxxers.

CNBC reports that Pinterest’s ban on vaccines and its determination to stop the spread of misinformation pertaining to public health could put pressure on other companies to do the same. Bloomberg reported that Facebook is “exploring additional measures to best combat the problem.”

Tech companies do have an obligation to provide quality information. But given the problems with fake news on Facebook, I think it’s safe to say that no matter what these companies do, people are going to try and continue to find ways to share bad information.

It’s easy to be deceptive on Facebook and other social media sites. Many people continue to be fooled by fake news posts and phishing emails.

Does Pinterest’s move constitute responsibility or is it censorship that could be a slippery slope? Time will tell.

For now, question everything. Use your critical thinking skills to verify information. Maybe someone will come up with a solution to stop online hoaxes, but then the hoaxers will just find new ways to bend the rules.

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