Can you activate a Moto G on Sprint?

Question: Can you activate a Moto G (3rd gen) on Sprint?

Answer: No.

TLDR: Don't use Sprint.

Having the unfortunateness of accidentally dropping and mostly obliterating a perfectly functional Nexus 5, my housemate was in need of a replacement ASAP. With solid specs and an amazing price tag (a mere $220) a Moto G (3rd gen) was high on my list of replacements. Considering the 2015 Nexus devices hadn't even been announced yet, it was pretty much the only option in that size range.

Moto was quick to ship and we skipped off to the Sprint store Moto G in hand to get it added to the existing service plan. I mean really, how hard could adding a phone be? Sadly it was all downhill from there...

Walking into Sprint there were a couple of people being helped or waiting to be helped but overly not very busy. Initially the service rep thought we wanted to transfer photos, data, etc from one device to another and said she could help us. After describing several times that we simply wanted the plan stop working on one phone and start working on another phone she finally understood but continued to deny being able to help. Instead insisting that we had to contact a Sprint call center.

They dial us in on one of the in-store phones and we end up on hold for a while...eventually a rep answers. The reps first response was also that we should be using the website, followed shortly by the device wasn't supported and more hold muzak. After a bit another story employee came to check on us, after describing yet again what we were attempting, she directed us to hang up and that she could take care of it in-store. On the computer. The single computer. The single computer already in use helping another customer.

Instead of standing around twiddling our thumbs waiting for the single computer to free up, we had a lightbulb moment. A once in a lifetime lightbulb moment. We went to the Sprint website on my phone to try and initiate the transfer there. Well...that turned out to not be such a lightbulb moment. Wow is the website not mobile optimized, full of weird errors that didn't make any sense, and just plain slow. Just to complete login we had to wait 5+ minutes for an OTP to get emailed.

To top it all off the website brickwalled at an "invalid IMEI" error.

The single working Sprint computer still wasn't available so we poked our heads into the Best Buy mobile store just around the corner. This was probably the real lightbulb moment because they were currently lording over an empty store so we jumped right in finding a solution. Unfortunately "invalid IMEI" was a persistent bugger that apparently is caused by a device not being in Sprint's database of blessed numbers.

My housemate had had enough by now so a few minutes later her number was ported to AT&T who was more than happy to activate on her sweet, sweet Moto G.

There is  a reason T-Mobile has overtaken Sprint as the number 3 provider in the US. On an unrelated note Project Fi support is fantastic and prompt.

The good, the bad, and the Moto X

Build quality

At first it felt cheap and plasticy compared to my Nexus 4. Now it feels right and the Nexus 4 feels heavy and the glass feels like it could shatter at any moment.

And before you ask, no I did not get to customize the colors of my Moto X, I purchased the developer edition which is only available in black and white. Which is fine, I'd rather have that than a locked colorful version.


The screen is fantastic. Watching a video on it makes the phone melt away and leave only the media.

Touchless controls

The idea behind touchless controls is pretty cool, but in practical application, touchless controls are useless to me. This is 100% because of my security paranoia though. I have PIN on every mobile device I own and I trend towards the security side of the spectrum instead of the convenience end. Having to manually enter a PIN for every voice request completely removes the less from "touchless". My two hours of using the Moto X before configuring a PIN hinted at it's potential though and for those not as concerned with security, this will be fantastic for everyday use.

Active display

One small part of this feature seems so unimportant before experiencing it, but after only a short period, I don't ever want a phone without it. Simply taking the phone out of your pocket (or flipping it over on the table) automatically displays the current time. I know what you're thinking...that it's really not that difficult to hit the power button to turn the screen on and off. And you're right, it's not that hard. But this just feels so much better!

The main feature of showing notifications without having to turn the phone on useful too. It even works with a security PIN and will lead to fewer unlocks as you can check out the snippet and decide if any actions need to be taken.

Motorola device policy

With the device manager you can remotely lock, locate, or wipe your device. It's kind of odd that Motorola is offering this as Android now has it built it. I opted not to use it as I've already got the built in device manager, and Google Apps device manager setup.


The camera interface minimalist and stays out of your way so you can get the job done.

I didn't think much of the quick capture camera at first. It seemed like a gimmick for the sake of being flashy, and in some respects it is. But it's also an elegant solution needed because of how the active display changes the interaction model. In existing phones you always have to hit the power button to turn the screen on. At that point it's a simple swipe on the lockscreen to bring up the camera and start snapping away. But with the active display, you get of the habit of seeing the lock screen unless you have the intent to unlocking your phone. The double wrist twist is simple, fast, and easy.

Touch anywhere to take a photo is nice. I do miss the standard Android interaction of tapping to focus and I've already had one macro shot I was taking that was focusing on the wrong distance. A small price to pay I guess.

Burst mode is dangerous, it's so easy just to hold it and hold it and hold it. I'm sure that will come back to haunt my battery one of these days. Pro tip: use it with Google+ photos to get some #autoawesomes!

Sadly photospheres are not currently supported. Hopefully support will be added in a future software update.

Hackathons are what you make of them

A couple of days ago a post titled hackathons are bad for you started making the rounds.
Here’s a standard recipe for a Hackathon.
  • Gather a bunch of developers in a location.
  • Supply them copious amounts of junk food, booze and caffeine.
  • Tell them to get cracking for 24hrs.
As a generalization that is somewhat accurate...but I’ve been a regular fixture at hackathons for several years now, and I’ve learned one very important thing: hackathons are what you make of them.


There is an almost masochistic take on sleep deprivation in the developer community. (It might be true with other professions, but let’s focus on the devs.)
It certainly isn’t specific to developers and it tends to be more of a cultural thing. Pinning this on hackathons is a bit unfair when you see the large percentage of Americans in general that suffer from sleep deprivation. Hackathons have time limits because they want everyone to have the same constraints, not because they don’t want you to sleep.

Just a couple of weeks ago I attended the Google Glass hackathon. It was a two day event that actively discouraged overnight hacking by kicking everyone out at 6pm. Some people went back to their hotel room or cave of choice to keep churning out code, I’m sure, but we were restricted from removing Glass from the Google office so it was particularly difficult to work after hours.
A good nights rest and a fresh mind are critical for a good developer, that’s one thing that Hackathons completely miss.
Hackathons aren’t about good development, they’re about fun development! Hackathons are almost always time constrained--so why are you worried about “good” when all you really want is “good enough”! Don’t write tests for hackathons, don’t backup databases for hackathons. Spend the time experimenting with that new technology, or playing with that product idea that has been rattling around the back of your head.

Food and drink

Next to sleep, your body needs good fuel to keep going. And NO! I don’t mean coffee. As much as I love my coffee, binging on coffee, red bull or is rarely good for focus.
Eating healthy is key to a better life. I should know. Over the last 18 months I’ve lost 60lbs and in the last three months I dropped 4 points of body fat by eating better and exercising regularly. You still need to “let loose” and “live a little”. Take the weekend off from your normal eating habits, enjoy a Red Bull, have some Oreos. Come Monday, get back on the bandwagon with even more gusto.

Something I’ve noticed over the last couple of years is hackathon attendees pushing back when organizers don’t provide good food. Pizza once in awhile is fun and takes you back to the college days but it does get old. I’m actually having trouble remembering the last hackathon that served pizza though. Mostly it’s a range of basic sandwiches to, decent takeout, to very good buffets.

Sedentary lifestyle

Hackthons again make it worse by inciting developers to sit at the same place for 24hrs. “I’m sure your back will thank you at the end of that!”.
Last I checked, developers still had feet and could go for a walk anytime. A couple hackathons have even tried to encourage activity though stretch time, but nobody wanted to participate! Perhaps having a photowalk thrown in (especially at media-centric events) would be a good way to get people active without them being self-conscious.


Hackathons are distraction.
Hackathons are events. If you want a quiet, zero distraction workspace don’t go to a hackathon. One of the best reasons for attending hackathons is immersing yourself in the community and meeting people. Real. Actual. Live. People. You can’t accomplish that by closing yourself off and wearing noise canceling headphones.


All of the solutions listed in the original post are important for life as well as hackathons. Everyone should live a healthy, well rounded, lifestyle. But sometimes you just need to take some time, eat crappy food, and hack on what you want. hackathon

On Saturday ADN is hosting a 12 hour hackathon at WeWork in SOMA. This will be their second in SF after the first one last October, which had awesome people, delicious food, and fun projects. I’ll be there (what should I work on?) hacking away, drinking Red Bull, and eating Oreos before getting up 5am Monday to hit the boxing gym.

TL;DR;BKS; Ultimately you are responsible for your life and your actions. Organizers should provide a healthy framework for you to hack in, but they are not your keepers. Take responsibility for your body, soul, and mind.

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Eggnog review: Berkeley Farms Holiday Eggnog

One of the better eggnogs I've tasted this holiday season. It's nice and thick with no artificial flavor. It doesn't have much in the way of nutmeg flavor however.

Buy it and add your own nutmeg.