Republic Wireless -Review

We have been on Republic Wireless for almost a month now.  Overall, the experience has been fantastic.  I would (and do) recommend them to many of my friends.  The phone itself (Moto X), is really quite nice.  I have never had a smartphone before, but I have owned iPad’s, so I am familiar with iOS.  Android, though not as intuitive, does the job well. If I had the choice I would still choose an iPhone, but at $60+ / Month vs. $10, I’ll take the Moto X.  And to be honest, the Android experiencing is growing on me…

It took awhile for us to get our order, but I knew that would be the case and they did get it out in the window that they promised (1-2 weeks).  Once we got our phones, they worked quite nice right out of the box.  We logged onto our WiFi, and they were rocking and rolling in no time.  The first thing we did was port our old numbers over, and once we filled out the form online, it took about 24 hours.  Since then, we have not looked back and have been enjoying our new service and the savings associated with it.

We have had a few glitches here and there.  Once my wife couldn’t write a text.  It kept kicking her into Chrome as soon as she started texting in Messages.  Another time I got a message while trying to make a call, that my number couldn’t be verified on Sprint PCS.  I restarted my phone and I was fine after that.  We have also had some trouble with MMS, but it appears Republic has recently solved this issue.  The biggest complaint for me is new Spam callers and texts.  I get quite a few Spam calls a day, and I only would get 1 a month or so when I was on Verizon.  I don’t get a ton of spam texts, but have gotten 3-4 since we made the switch.  I am not sure why I am getting these, if Verizon does a better job at blocking them, or what?  It is definitely a nuisance and I am currently looking into apps or other ways to block the spam.

Overall, I love the phone and the service.  I have contacted Support twice via the web, and had my questions resolved very quickly.  At $20 / Month… this is really an amazing deal.  I don’t have data unless I am on Wifi, but I didn’t on Verizon either and it cost $70 / month.

I had always wished that the big phone companies would offer the option of a smartphone, but with only Wifi coverage.  Most of the places I go have WiFi if I need to look something up, and I can live without connectivity the rest of the time.  Of course, I understand why the big phone companies don’t do this….  $$$$$.   In the meantime, I think Republic is going to carve out a really nice niche with their offering.

The Launch


Over the past few weeks, my business partner at Five Espressos and I have launched a new service called ymLaunch.  ymLaunch is a WordPress multisite that is built to help youth ministries have their own website.  I was a youth pastor for 12 years or so, and I always wanted my own web site.  I never had the time or the know-how to pull it off.  When it was time for me to be done as a full time youth pastor, I started learning and working as a WordPress developer.  About a year into that, I realized that the perfect service for me to build would be one that was for youth ministries.  So we built it.

So far, this has been a much larger undertaking than I ever imagined.  Don’t think for a moment, that just because a large percentage of sites today are being built on WordPress… it is easy work.  To do things right, it takes time, patience, development skill, amazing people that are willing to help (quite possibly the biggest upside of WordPress), and the willingness to dig deep and learn.

This is all extremely exciting, and a little scary all at the same time.  The product is not quite where I want it to be just yet, but we focused on getting the basics set for Launch.  We will be continuing to make it better, prettier, and easier to use for youth pastors.

ymLaunch is definitely a niche within a niche.  There are plenty of services out there for church websites.  What I found in my years as a youth pastor, though… is that it is really more ideal for youth ministries to have their own site.  They will certainly still want a page on the church site, with basic info and a link to the youth ministry site.  On their own site, though, they can have (and edit) their own calendar, downloads, pictures, and content.  This should make life easier, as there can be ONE place to keep all the content and info people need with regards to the youth ministry.  There are some other major benefits as well, but I’ll save those for another time.   Ultimately, I want to make this as easy as possible (and reasonably inexpensive) for youth pastors, so that they can continue to focus on what is really important:  ministering to students.

republic wireless

Republic Wireless

I’ll be moving cell phone carriers some time in the next month.  I ordered 2 Motorola Moto-x’s, and signed up for a Republic Wireless $10 / month plan for each phone.  Yep, that’s right, $10 a month.  Crazy.  Right now, I pay significantly more than that for each of my phones, and I don’t even have a smartphone.  Of course, with the $10 plan, I won’t get any data unless I am on wifi, but I can live with that for awhile.  I’ve never had data anyway.  I figure the savings can pay for the phone first, and then I’ll upgrade to a data plan.

I’ve been on Verizon for a long, long time.  And while their coverage is great, their plans (especially for smart phones) are just ridiculous.  I added up the total cost for 2 years on a smart phone with Verizon, and my thought was… no phone is worth that much $$.   Since most of my digital world is on Apple devices, I would have preferred an iPhone, but in the end, it’s just not worth it.  I also use Google a ton, so my guess is Android won’t be too hard to get used to.

If your in the market for cheaper wireless, I’d suggest you check out Republic.  They use Sprint’s network, which isn’t the best, but I’ll be saving $50 / month compared to what I was spending with Verizon.  They use an interesting system that prioritizes wifi, so I’ll post again with a review once I’ve been using it for awhile.


Switching to Gmail Web-App

I recently made the switch to the Gmail web-app.  I have had a Gmail address (or two) for a long time.  However, I have always used a local application to access my email.  For years, I used the standard mail app that comes with OSX.  Recently, I had switched to Sparrow.  However, after Sparrow was acquired by Google, I knew it was a matter of time before I needed to find something else.  In the last few months, Sparrow was having some glitches that bothered me enough to start looking around and make a switch once again.

I looked for a few weeks, and where I ended surprised even me.  I really don’t like the web interface for Gmail.  But in the end… functionality was what won the day.  The biggest gain for me, was that once I get the Gmail interface set up the way I want it, I can access my email in that EXACT interface from anywhere. First, I forwarded ALL of my emails to my Gmail account, and then I set each email up to send from there as well.  Gmail can automatically respond from the same address that a message was sent to me on… so now I don’t even need to know what address a message comes in on.  If I respond, Gmail responds from the correct address (you do have to select this setting).  Still, I set up labels for each of my emails, just so I can keep track of where conversations are happening.

Over all, it has taken me a few weeks to get things the way I like them.  Now I have my labels and filters set up in a way that works for me, and I am slowly getting accustomed to Gmail shortcuts.  The final step for me, was to clean things up.  I turned to Gmelius for that.  Gmelius allows you to take out adds and clean the interface up a bit (but only in Chrome).  Of course, If I access my Gmail from someone else’s computer, it won’t have the final touches that Gmelius adds. The functionality will be the same, though, and I can live with that.

Now that I am on the flip-side of having made the switch… I can hardly imagine going back to a stand-alone email app.  I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Google (and all super-huge mega companies that are trying to rule the world), but the functionality they offer for email is fantastic for my usage.


Moving things over…

After a bit of work with a new theme, and moving all my content over, it’s time to get started on the new site. I began this blog at  When I started that site, it was for writing and reflecting about a year long project of fasting and embracing new habits.  That year has long since past, and though I still blogged occasionally, I never really kept up after the first year.  I wanted a fresh start, and more generic domain name to post about whatever it is I am thinking about / reading / etc.   So it is.  I wanted to keep all of my content from the previous blog, just in case one of my 10 readers ever wanted to refer back to it!  So here is to a fresh start!

Office View

I was sitting down with my coffee this morning, reading through my RSS feeds. This is a normal morning routine for me, and one of my favorites feeds caught my eye, as usual: Offscreen magazine does a “desktop” series where they feature five inspiring workspaces each week.  They find some amazing, and usually minimal workspaces, many of them with amazing views.  You can check out the series here.  The first workspace picture for today, had a long skinny desk up against a large window with a fantastic view into the woods.  I found myself longing for a view like that.  Then I realized: I already have it.  My primary job is a stay at home dad, where I often go hiking with my son during the day.  Essentially at that point, my office has fantastic views and I get to share them with my son (and sometimes my daughters if they are not in school).  For my secondary job as a web designer / developer… I’d still like to have  a fantastic office someday.  It’s funny though, if I end up with a great view into the woods, I’ll likely be longing to go hiking with my family!


Over the last few weeks I have been thinking about the Lenten season as an opportunity to practice both an embrace and a refrain for 40 days.  However, I was having a bugger of a time figuring out what to do!  Our church is practicing a daily prayer and lectionary reading during Lent.  I was planning on incorporating this into whatever I decided, but I was really struggling with the rest.  Thankfully, Rachel Held Evans wrote a helpful post yesterday:  40 Ideas for Lent.  I took a couple ideas from there and came up with a plan:

  • I joined the Lenten Wilderness Meditation Practice:  Spend 10-20 minutes each day outside in prayer / meditation / just being (rain, snow, or shine).  What a great idea, and it will work perfect to do alongside the daily prayer and lectionary reading. 
  • No Meat:  From RHE: “Traditionally, Christians abstained from eating meat during Lent, so consider joining millions of Christians around the world in this fast. It’s a great way to feel connected to the historical, worldwide church.”  I have been thinking lately that I would like to reduce my consumption of meat anyway, mainly for the health benefits.  This will be a good opportunity to move in that direction as well.