It all comes to your choice in phones and if they have a locked boot loader (or an unlockable one) or not. Phones without one like Nexus devices, Google Play Editions, or my personal favorite the Moto X Developer Edition are simple to root and don't even require ROMing. My Verizon Moto X Dev has even stayed rooted through 3 Over The Air updates without having to do anything special.
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Look for a "Demo Mode" in the manual. When I first got my older non-smart Samsung TV it would reset to defaults every time it was power cycled. This got really annoying really quick if you wanted to tune your color temperatures at all, but might be great in your situation.
True, I only have 700 minutes (but I hardly come close to using them), but I do have unlimited Texting as well.
Of course, they are not lowering the price of my grandfathered in Unlimited Data plan, so I guess I will just have to be happy with paying $40 a month for Unlimited Data.
By default I get texts and emails on my watch, can set reminders and alarms and text by voice, and of course answer and dismiss calls which is surprising useful with a BT ear piece. But with some good apps like Coffee I can easily send texts, with a custom face I can see my steps and weather outside at a glance (important where I live in the winter). I hardly take out my phone a fraction as much as I used to except to type long texts or emails or occasional web browsing.
The body may look like a cross between a Dalek and EVE from WALL-E, but that sensor slit at the top looks totally Cylon to me. I hope it has a single sweeping red eye.
All of your Linux servers could be auto-updating too. Our company had over 2000 Linux servers located all over the country updated in less than 24 hours of the bug being announced after we vetted the updates on our test servers.
FoxFi has long been the defacto standard for non-root tether apps but whether it works varies by phone. But, I honestly haven't used it in ages as I always just root my phones (last 4). It was so easy to root my Moto X Dev that I have never looked back. But, even having the ability, I rarely use it. I just occasionally connect to my phone with my Android tablet, but never with a PC.
I am also old enough, but don't you mean a Gunstar?
Hmm, Du Hast blasting from my stereo activated by a motion sensor might just do the trick, or give me a heart attack some night.
BASIC may not be the best programming language, far from it, but it was my first and it gave me the love of programming that lead to where I am today. I got my first TRS Color Computer 2 when I was 10 for Christmas and I will never forget typing in my first example program (and saving it on a tape) and then starting to experiment and figure out what else I could do with this wonder. From there I upgraded to a CoCo 3 and eventually QuickBASIC on a PC. With that I wrote an AI program that got me to an International Science & Engineering Fair. From there I went on to college to major in CS and learn some real languages. I have been programming in Java for some time now and am now moving into Android development. But, it all started with BASIC on my CoCo and I will always remember it fondly.
There is a a web UI? I think gmail works great in Thunderbird via IMAP. It has full sorting and folders, everything you could ever want. The Android app is pretty good on my phone as well (although no sorting). I have never seen a web based email UI that I liked or used unless I absolutely had to.
I don't generally stream or rent any movies. I usually buy one new Blu-Ray every 2 weeks or so. With that I get the physical media I can watch on my home theater system, and just as important to me with most movies I get an UltraViolet code. I then can enter that code and watch that movie on my phone and tablets and laptop as many times as I want with VUDU and I can easily download the full movies to these devices to watch at will. My tablet has a 32GB MicroSD that gives me a nice selection for a trip, and my laptop has a 1 TB drive that can pretty much hold as many downloaded movies as I care to, and I never have to deal with discs on the road. I am just not a renter. I would much rather pay full price to own fewer high quality movies that I can also play anywhere through VUDU than waste my money renting them for temporary use and needing a DVD drive or lots of bandwidth when I am traveling.
I am sure there are plenty of similar Grandma stories out there, but here is one from a Computer Systems Engineer who has been using Windows since 3.11. I still use my XP laptop regularly because it is the only thing that works perfectly for me for remote desktoping in to work. Our company uses a (major brand) firewall that has a few ways of connecting in via a RSA key. The first is an ActiveX based RDP client that works perfectly in Windows XP. This is what I have used for years. Well, I finally decided it was time and went to replace old faithful with a brand new top of the line laptop. I spared no expense. It has 16GB of RAM, Intel i7 processor, large SSD, a full HD touchscreen, and of course Windows 8. It boots in a flash and runs wonderfully (with Start8), until I try to get into work. The ActiveX client simply does not work. So, the alternative is a Java based RDP client. This works, but runs slower than molasses in January. There is also a wonderful new VPN client that should just allow me to run Window's own Remote Desktop client, but what? It also does not work in Windows 8. So, this leaves me with only having the Java client to run which is still just as slow on my new laptop as my old. So, therefore I keep using my old XP laptop for remote desktop. I know I can, and probably will setup a VM running XP on my new laptop, but I am still running XP so that rather defeats the point as well.
I am still addicted to Borderlands 2 as well. I am currently stuck regrinding the Treasure Room in the Pirate's Booty expansion. I never get tired of opening all of those treasure chests and looking for new high end items.