Saturday, December 13, 2014

Buying A Phone From Cricket wireless (AIO) - Stop and Read This First

I can't even remember how many times I talked about how much better it is to leave behind phone contracts and switching to a prepaid plan.
To recap, here's why:

1. You can switch carriers anytime without having to pay ETF or being stuck with a locked phone.
2. Prepaid packages run cheaper than any contract plan you are on.
3. If you are with a CDMA network that would make it impossible to use your phone with a GSM carrier even if you get the phone unlocked.
4. You have the ability to sell your phone at any point without waiting for your contract to end or pay more for any early upgrade program your carrier might offer.
After my Samsung Galaxy Note I N700 died on me I was stuck trying to find a budget phone to buy and that's when I decided to buy the Motorola Moto G (2013) from Cricket wireless because it was offered for $150 at that time, they also had a rebate program which offers you $50 mail in rebate.

The phone was advertised as the 4G/LTE version which sounded weird because the Moto G 4G was not yet released at this point but I made sure to call Cricket wireless a few times before buying the phone to make sure and all of the agents I spoke to assured me it is the 4G/LTE Moto G.

Motorola then was selling the Moto G unlocked for $180 but I decided to go with the one from Cricket Wireless for 2 reasons: 1- it was cheaper at $100 2- it was 4G/LTE.

When I went to buy the phone from the store I was told that there is a $25 upgrade fee because i'm an existing Cricket customer and after tax and everything the phone cost me around $180, I was still happy with the deal because I still had the 4G/LTE and they promised the phone can be unlocked 4 months after activation.

When I went home I discovered that the Moto G I had was the XT-1032 which is the normal 3G variant, I was so disappointed and called many times to complain but no one in Cricket did anything about it.

Since I had already gave up my backup phone I was stuck with the Moto G I bought because if I had returned it and bought the unlocked one from Motorola it would have taken sometime until I receive it, so I decided to wait and see what Cricket would do about miss-selling the phone as the 4G/LTE but in the end no one cared or even apologized.

After getting the phone unlocked I just realized that the Moto G I bought from Cricket has a locked bootloader which means you can't change the software (i.e upgrade to lollipop unofficially).

I tried to call twice yesterday to ask whether Cricket will push Android Lollipop or not and was informed that the updates will come from Motorola so I contacted Motorola and they assured me that the OTA update is the responsibility of the carrier which is Cricket which clearly means that neither Motorola nor Cricket wireless is working on an update for my XT-1032.

Now I'm stuck with an overpriced phone running Kitkat 4.4.2 with no hopes of an update to Lollipop or even unofficial Lollipop because of the bootloader lock.

To summarize I will never buy a phone from a carrier ever again, it's always better to buy the unlocked phone from the manufacturer because then I can always get support and updates.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How To Fix The Moto G Camera Error "Please Restart Camera"

moto g please restart camera recovery motorola

I started getting this error message "please restart camera" every time I tried to start my Moto G's camera. 

Rebooting the phone would make the error message disappear for a little bit but it would soon start coming up again which is so inconvenient to have to restart your Moto G every time you need to use your camera.

I started reading everywhere to find solutions, I tried uninstalling Skype but it didn't fix the problem.
I tried to clear the data and cache of the camera app and it still didn't work.

Today I spoke to a Motorola's chat support agent and I explained the issue, she advised me to follow some steps. Since then the camera is working without any problems.

I know that this is not a permanent fix and sooner or later I will start getting the error again but what can I do? it's just a temporary fix until Cricket wireless decides to update the Moto G (mine is 4.4.2) 
Motorola is doing an awesome job keeping their phones up to date
I just hate the fact that carriers are the ones who roll out firmware updates.

Here are the steps, try them:

This will remove any temporary files that may be causing the problem, but will not delete your files or settings.
1. With the phone powered off, press and hold VOL DOWN KEY + POWER key (simultaneously) for 5 seconds and then release both buttons.
2. The device will display different BOOT OPTIONS
3. Use the VOL DOWN Key to SCROLL to Recovery and VOL UP Key to select

Tip: If the device reboots, you may have waited to long to make a selection, you will need to begin the process again. 
4. The device will display the Motorola logo and then the Android in distress ( logo with Exclamation mark)
moto g please restart camera recovery motorola
5. Press and hold the VOL UP key. While still holding the VOL UP key tap and release the POWER key. Once you see the RED text at the top of the screen, release both buttons (should take only a second).
Tip: You can try this step, holding the phone in landscape. If you are stuck on step 5, try a force reboot by pressing the Power key and Vol Down key until your device reboots, and start the process again.
6. The device will display additional menu options (Text will appear in BLUE) 
7. Use the VOL DOWN Key to scroll to wipe cache partition and the POWER Key to select this option
8. The device will then perform the partition wipe
9. The device will reboot and start the normal power up sequence

Even after i upgraded to lollipop I was still getting the same error, the only difference is that on lollipop once I uninstalled skype the camera has been working just fine.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Transformers: Facebook Edition

facebook transformers friends getting old
Recently I started noticing how the patterns of my Facebook news feed have been changing, it's really interesting to realize you're growing up through Facebook (not that it's needed that much...grey hair is enough) 

I started noticing how profile photos of clubbing, partying, going to the gym, traveling and being cool in general got replaced by wedding photos then photos with babies.

Instead of the random Facebook conversations with my Facebook friends that are full of fun and flirtations I'm getting boring news about how her baby is sick or how her husband doesn't like to eat zucchini ( I have nothing against zucchini)
And then I ask myself: What the hell am I doing with my life? Why am I not married with 3 kids? What the fuck am I spending my money on? Where was I when all my friends decided to take these steps to marrying, growing up and having kids?

Those friends of mine transformed completely into boring, home-staying creatures.
They lost all their fun-loving personalities and lived the lives their parents planned for them 

Then I lighten up and I ask myself instead: What the hell are these people doing? How boring their lives must be? How the hell are they missing out on the best times of their lives not traveling but taking care of a baby? 

And then I realize that I'm not the one with the grey's them.

I realized that this was my choice, I could've taken the exact path and lived the same traditional boring life but I decided instead TO BE AWESOME


Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Real Reason Why You Should Quit Smoking

smoking kills cigarettes reason quit
Today was my 4th day without smoking, of course I tried to quit like a million times before but never was I successful however, this time I can feel how different it is.

The reason why this time is much different than the others is the reason behind letting go of smoking, when I tried quitting in the past I had a different reason ranging from health concerns, being with someone who hates smoking to financial issues but all of these reasons were not enough and I always came back to my friend who never left me (cigarettes)

This time it's different, I decided to quit not because of someone else but because of me, this time I decided to give up on a bad friend, a friend that is trying to kill me in exchange for some stress relief and feelings of momentary high that doesn't last more than 5 minutes.

I'm on a nicotine replacement therapy and I thought that was the main reason I didn't have the craving that we are all familiar with. But this proved to be wrong because at some point I had the patch (Nicoderm) on my arm but it fell off when I was going about my day and I didn't even realize it until after a long time.

Maybe this was a placebo effect orchestrated by my brain but still it proves that I'm addicted more to the habit rather than the substance and by breaking my daily routine and tweaking the way I do things I lost the craving to smoke, this was accomplished by very simple tweaks for example: changing the route I drive to work or waking up and sitting down on a different chair on my porch other than the one I used to sit on while smoking.

Pretty simple but effective, I hope this will continue  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tips for managing your business no matter how small it is

It annoys me so much that small businesses don't usually have proper business management skills.

Working in a small restaurant I find it extremely tiring for me as an employee to do my job due to lack of a proper organizational structure and the lack of a non-flexible job description.

This leads to serious problems between the employees who act each upon his own understanding of the business's best interest which usually conflicts with the business's interest anyway.

I'm not implying that a small business should have its own HR department but setting some roles and rules would definitely make everything easier for everyone.

Having someone in charge leaves no space for blame to innocent employees who did nothing but improvise due to the absence of rules.

So here goes the list of tips:

1- A manager should always be present to manage the team and take decisions

2- A job description should be clear for each individual

3- Rules should be clear and known even for managing a crisis or an unexpected situation


Monday, September 22, 2014

The Secret To Have Everything You Want In Life

I know you heard this advice many times before, your outlook on life decides you actions and your actions define what you experience in life.
If you feel lonely you'll act lonely which in turn would be boring to other people and that makes you more lonely.
If you have negative thoughts and expect crises to happen they are more likely to happen because you Act according to the thoughts and the actions you take will influence the reactions you receive back from the world.
On the other hand, if you feel lonely but try your best and you know deep inside that you won't be in the future, you'll go out in the world and show your best side which people will love and then you get friends.
When I read the book "the secret" I thought it was full of bullshit, yeah i liked the idea but I didn't believe there are real forces that you send out to the universe and a response comes back from the universe.

Now I realize the meaning, I understand that the force described in the book is your attitude and the force that the universe responds with is actually the reactions you get to that specific attitude you displayed.
It's easy to forget this theory or even easier to convince yourself you're applying it while you aren't.
In the last 2 days I experienced how having a positive outlook on life can actually change your life.


Friday, September 12, 2014

The History of The First Stoner

Today, I thought about the first person who tried smoking pot.... I imagine him as a native American in a tribe exploring some part of the tropical world.

While walking he stumbles upon this beautiful plant and he decides to take it back and grow it
After months pass the plant grew big but it had this particular scent that we are all familiar with 
He decides to get rid of it and burns it 
While burning it he inhales THC and discovers smoking pot.

Of course this is not the true story but its a figment of my imagination but what I'm really sure of is that whoever was the first person who tried it he got so stoned and tripped so bad he got scared to death.

This is just my theory that i can't prove but man the whole point of the theory is to say that i'm willing to give up half of my life to experience what this person experienced.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My best Instagram photos

Cairo, Egypt

Kiev, Ukraine

Kiev, Ukraine 
Zamalek, Egypt

Zamalek, Egypt

Changchun, China

Kiev, Ukraine

Beijing, China

Changchun, China

Changchun, China

Changchun, China

Changchun, China

Cairo, Egypt

Dahab, Egypt

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand

Harbin, China

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China 
Shanghai, China

Huntington Beach, Califonia, USA

Orlando, Florida, USA

Orlando, Florida, USA
Orlando, Florida, USA


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Installing Cyanogenmod 11 on Nook HD - The Comprehensive Full Guide

nook hd CM11 guide install CWM root

I searched online a lot for a full guide to explain how to install CWM, root and install CM11 on the nook HD but all I found was confusing information that doesn't give clear instructions on how to install it.

After some trial and error, also soft bricking my tablet I managed to install CM11 and get it running smoothly on my Barnes and Noble's Nook HD

As always I'm not responsible if you hard brick your tablet or cause any damage to it, this method worked out for me on my Nook HD doesn't work on any other device 
You are fully responsible for any damage you cause
nook hd CM11 guide install CWM root
So here you go the full instructions on how to get CWM and CM11 installed on your Barnes and Noble's Nook HD:

What you'll need for this guide is:
1- A dedicated micro SD card at least 4 GB
2- A memory card reader to be able to plug your micro SD card into your computer

1- Insert the memory card into your memory card reader and plug it into your PC 

2- Right click the memory card drive and format as Fat32 

3- Download and install Win32 Disk Imager 

4- Download the bootable CWM image from here and extract it with winrar

5- Open Win32 Disk Imager and select the drive of your memory card then browse for the image file you extracted in step 4 and click write, now you have a bootable CWM memory card

6- Download the emmc CWM recovery from here but don't extract it, keep it as a zip 

7- Download the latest version of CM11 from this link and don't extract it

8- Download the Gapps for CM11 from this link and don't extract it 

9- Copy the zip files you downloaded from steps 6, 7 and 8 to the root of your micro SD card

10- Safely remove your Micro SD card and insert it into your Nook HD tablet while the tablet is off

11- Turn on your tablet and wait until you get to the CWM menu, use the volume up and down keys to navigate through the menu, power button works as the back key and the home button/N button works to select

12- Go to backup and restore and make sure you backup your stock software in case something goes wrong

13- Go back to the main menu and choose install zip from external SD 

14- Choose the zip file you downloaded in step 6 "cwm-recovery-hummingbird-5"

15- Repeat step 13 and choose the zip file you downloaded in step 7 which is the CM11 zip file

16- Repeat step 13 and choose the zip file you downloaded in step 8 which is the Gapps 

17- Go back to CWM main menu and choose reboot to system 

If you follow these steps exactly your tablet will boot into Kitkat Cyanogenmod 11.
If you require any help comment here and I will give extra instructions

Monday, July 14, 2014

Too much thinking?

thinking, ideas, life

I stumbled upon a piece of news or rather a study that showed that men can never stop thinking while women actually have the ability to shut off their brains for sometime.

One thing I know for sure is that it doesn't matter whether this is true or not because as humans we are programmed to think and I guess this is one of the reasons we need to sleep, just so we can stop thinking and not go crazy.

But the piece of news was interesting because maybe it explains why I keep thinking about weird topics that I really don't have any need to think about. I'll give you some examples:

It starts when I was peeing and looking at the water in the toilet bowl I started having questions that led to other questions like:
Why is there water in the toilet bowl?
why doesn't it drain?
what happens to a frog if i flush it down the toilet? oh that's interesting then maybe I can attach a wireless camera to record his adventure down the drainage system
oh wait that means I need a water resistant camera, how much would that cost? keep a mental note to look that up on Amazon.
but wait why a frog? maybe another amphibian that is smaller in size, then I need to research that topic in the library
I'm going to the library? what should I take with me? laptop or tablet? tablet, no wait laptop 
then why do I need to go to the library, I can just stay at home and research it online while having a glass of beer, but what kinda of beer goes well with reading about amphibians that are most suitable to be flushed down the toilet?
Bluemoon? hell that night in the bar was so much fun, bummer i ran out of cigarettes and all the stores were closed.
Why the hell do they close so early? back home everything is open 24 hours but yeah I get it that it's a waste of energy to open 365 days a year but how can we generate so much electricity to supply for all these electronics out there? they must be using..............................................and it goes on and on and on.
Just stupid useless ideas.

Facebook is Getting Creepier By The Day - Privacy Concerns

facebook privacy concerns
yeah, right.....we believe you
I've been on Facebook for a very very long time, I can't even remember any instance in my life before I had Facebook (you can blame that on age or loss of memory)

But when I found that post from Facebook today on my news feed I couldn't continue trying to fool myself into trusting Facebook, I just couldn't.

During the past few weeks there has been so much talk and controversy about our information that Facebook keeps using without asking our permission.

According to an article on, Facebook's mobile app has weird permissions that allow them access to information like:

  • Your contacts, including modification and adding or changing calendar events. They know who is in your phone and can contact them.
  • Your exact location. They know where you are at any time.
  • Your camera, including taking pictures and videos at any time, as well as recording from the microphone. They can get at anything you’re saying or looking at.
  • Your text messages, your calls, and can call phone numbers. They can see who you’ve contacted recently.
  • Your internal storage, including permission to delete anything. They can see the files on your phone.
  • Full Internet access anytime, changing your wallpaper, opening up over other apps, and downloading files. They can make little tweaks without your knowledge.

Next on the list we have Facebook running psychological experiments on its users without letting them know, well yes I know that these are in the terms and conditions of Facebook but it's not like we have any other choice, true they did apologize afterwards but that doesn't fix the broken trust between Facebook and its massive number of users.

photo credits
Facebook is also using your browsing history to customize their ads, while this is not a big deal (since all of the websites you interact with do the same) at the same time Amazon for example doesn't have all my photos and doesn't recognize faces of people who are not even my friends, what I'm saying is that Facebook knows more about us than our best friends do and we are just allowing them to keep collecting data from our computers to know more and more, here's How to Stop Facebook From Using Your Browsing History.

So after knowing that Facebook collects all your private information from your browsing history, runs emotional experiments on you, and even listens to your conversations, your surroundings when you use the mobile app, Do you still trust Facebook? and should we believe them when they say "your answers are private and won't be shared"?


How Unlocking Your Phone Increases Its Resale Price

Browsing through Swappa listings looking for cell phones I noticed that network unlocked phones have a higher value than locked ones.
In the following chart I plotted some of the most famous phones from different brands with their minimum prices locked vs. unlocked on swappa to visualize what I noticed.

Unlocked vs locked, phones, selling, price, sim unlock, network

This chart will show you how unlocked phones are always more expensive than locked ones, sometimes it's even a big difference. For example the LG Flex unlocked is sold at $435 while the locked one goes for $310.

I was surprised because I showed in a previous post how easy and cheap it is to unlock your phone even if you didn't stay with your carrier long enough for them to unlock it for you.

After I noticed that I decided to try and make use of my observation so after I unlocked my Alcatel one touch Fierce that I bought from Metropcs for only $30 I put it online on Swappa to sell it.
I was taken back when someone bought it for $85.



Nook HD Review - One Of The Best Budget Tablets in the Market

nook hd apex launcher budget tablet

It's been some time since I started looking for a decent tablet to use for reading, I already had Amazon's Kindle 4th generation 6" with the E-Ink technology and I loved it but it wasn't enough, I needed a tablet that can do much more than just reading.

I started researching keeping in mind I had a limited budget of $70 and finally I decided and I went ahead and bought a certified pre-owned Nook HD 7" although I could have gotten the Nook HD+ 9" for the same price but since I wanted to use it for reading I preferred to get the lighter smaller version.

The tablet is very decent with it's memory card slot (compared to the nexus 7) the rubberized back provides a good grip and the hardware specs don't fall short in providing a smooth experience let alone the amazing pixel density of the HD LCD screen.

The first issue I had was the laggy home screen provided by Barnes and Noble which was easy to replace with the tablet user interface provided by Apex Launcher.
nook hd apex launcher budget tablet
The second issue I had was finding a free pdf reader that supports text wrapping or text reflow which was solved by installing Qpdf

While the tablet doesn't allow installing of unknown sources (sideloading) I found the Google play store more than enough to provide all the apps I needed, yeah I do miss some of the apps I can't install like instagram for an instance but again it's a tablet designed for reading mainly.

The battery life is good and lasts for at least a day with good heavy usage.

Another annoying thing is the lack of a standard micro USB port so you need to carry the Nook charging cable with you instead of using your standard Android micro USB charger.

Overall I'm very satisfied with my purchase and would recommend this tablet over many others in the market 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Questions About Zombies - The Walking Dead

I started watching The Walking Dead a couple of days ago (I know I'm late but better late than never) of course this is because it will take forever for the new season of Game of Thrones to come out.


I have to say I got hooked, I'm already at the end of season 2 and that kinda raised a lot of questions Regarding zombies that don't have answers but still annoy me so much

It's understandable that if you get bit then you turn into one but, why would a zombie just bite you and not eat you completely? I would get it if you got bit then you got out alive or not, but that doesn't explain baby zombies, there's no way they only got bit then they ran away or that the zombie decided he had enough of the meal and left the baby.

If it's an infection then why do all the zombie apocalypse movies have the heroes cutting themselves and not getting infected?

What the hell happens to a zombie if he can't find food? would he starve to death?

What happens when saturation happens and there are no more humans, only zombies? would they start eating each other?

Why are there no zombie animals? is it because zombies eat all of the animal because they are delicious? Zombies craving bacon?

Why can't the zombies walk in a normal way? if they are missing a leg or something then ok but normal whole zombies?

Do zombies get cold? how do they feel about rain?

Monday, June 30, 2014

What People Are Saying About Motrola's Moto X on Twitter

android motorola moto x moto g moto e
I always said that the best Android phones in the market were Motorola phones (sorry Samsung fans). Motorola's hardware has been superior in each and every phone they produced and that's even before Google acquired Motorola.

I was lucky enough to use some of these phones over the time starting with the Motorola Defy, Motorola Atrix 4G, Motorola Atrix HD and currently the powerful amazing budget phone Motorola Moto G.

I have a great interest in Motorola's Moto X however I don't think I'm done with the Moto G yet to upgrade but I wanted to read what people are saying about the Moto X and the Moto G on twitter to get the general idea whether people like them or not and here's what I found.

Now with all that positive feedback you should go ahead and buy yourself one of the 3 awesome Motorola phones: Moto X, Moto G, Moto E 


Sunday, June 29, 2014

My struggle with phone batteries

I recently bought a Motorola Atrix HD which I thought was a very good phone at least it was when it first came out, the problem I had with the Atrix HD was the battery life that lasted 10 hours on average which put me in so many bad situations.

I considered doing the Razr Maxx battery mod to improve battery life however with the phone being almost new I didn't want to tinker with it so I returned it after trying it for a week.

When I went out to buy a new phone I decided to go with the Motorola Moto G (Motorola phones are the best) after 4 days of using the Moto G I have to say that the battery life is amazing. Today for example after using the phone for 16 hours I still have 30% juice left in my battery which is good but now I have a different problem with finding the right battery recharging schedule.

When I come home from work and I'm ready to sleep I still have 30% or more left on my batter and because I don't wanna plug it in while it has some juice left to try to prolong the battery health (especially with these new built in batteries....damn you apple) I don't plug in and in the morning i'm left with only 25% which is not enough to keep me going the whole day.

I know that battery topping up is not that harmful to Li-ion batteries but this is still controversial and I don't wanna take the risk because I like the phone.

I'm still looking for a phone with a battery that will last more than a day or 2.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

How Consumerism & Capitalism in the USA is Enslaving us

Since I arrived in the USA I've been thinking about how people live their lives here, when immigrants arrive here they assume they are arriving in the land of opportunities where they will be able to live "the American dream" little do they know that this so called dream is no longer a dream but more like a nightmare.

The ideas we get from movies and media in general is so fake, people driving 15 cars and spending their summers barbecuing in their summer houses on the beach is so not real. In fact I have never ever seen that many homeless in any other country but the US.

Yes, you are right about industrialization in the country but this is only because of consumerism which is encouraged here in the US more than anywhere else in the world. People are tempted to buy useless products that they will never need and tempted to upgrade any product they have to the newest model although the differences between the newer and the older model are usually not that different.

This leads to what I call "the vicious circle of life" in which you work all the time, 60-70 hours a week in 2 different jobs to be able to afford mortgage and installments of the aforementioned products you don't need because in reality you don't actually have the time to use them since you are working most of the time. and so it becomes instead of working to live you live to work. All your entire life you work wasting the best years of your youth until you retire (you retire not because they want you to enjoy what remains in your life but because you became useless to the work environment) and with your pension you can't afford your bills that accumulated during your working life.

I always think about what I will tell my grandchildren when i'm on my deathbed and I figured that if I live that kinda life I will tell them that I worked all my life and wasted all my good years on a promise to live comfortably when I retire but in the end when I retired I was poor and I had to work a part-time job to afford breathing then I died poor.
Is that the kind of life you wanna live? I guess not.

Now we go back to the case of the homeless, out of my observations and talks with a lot of homeless (I don't try to avoid them as many do) I discovered that these are the people who are the sanest in this country, they refused to live according to what was planned for them and they said no to working all their lives and dying without doing nothing or even enjoying some useless products they didn't really need, and because they didn't play by the rules they are now homeless.

What I also noticed is that these people are the happiest people here, they live their lives without having anything to do and they just enjoy it talking to people (not through iphones and whatsapp) they walk and ride their bikes everywhere and they are free to move around to any city they want because they don't have any kind of commitment to a house they own.

I'm not telling you to leave your boring corporate desk job and to be homeless but what I'm saying is that we should think before we buy something, we should think before using our credit cards because if we don't then we will be stuck in jobs we hate but can't quit just so we can pay credit card bills for products and services we bought but never used.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How turn your laptop into a cell phone replacement

cell phones, laptop, pc, calls, texts, whatsapp, android, technology

In my last post I explained how I survived a day without my phone and I think I mentioned how much I felt relaxed and worry-free or did I? :)
Anyway I also discovered that I missed some really important calls, texts and whatsapp messages, being the creative tech-savvy person I am, I had to figure out a way to continue receiving my calls, texts and whatsapp messages.

To continue receiving my phone calls I remembered that my carrier (cricket wireless) allows unconditional call forward free of charge which I have been using anyway to receive my voicemails through Google Voice because let's face it: Google is the best....and because I got all my voicemails in my e-mail readily transcribed so I didn't have to actually listen to them.
So I got cricket to unconditionally forward all my phone calls to my Google voice number, In that way I would receive all my phone calls in my Gmail, all what I had to do is just keep my Gmail in a tab open all the time and voila I got all my calls on my laptop without paying an extra cent.

This was the biggest problem because up until now I couldn't find a way to forward my texts, sure there are so many services that you can use to read and respond to your text messages from a PC but all of them require you to have your SIM card up and running in a phone.
however Google voice proved helpful when I needed to send texts from my laptop, the only downfall is that these texts would send from my Google voice number and not from my cricket wireless number.

This one was a bit tough but I got it to work, by setting up virtualbox on my laptop and running android in a virtual environment I finally had a working android system in a window on my PC by following howtogeek's guide.
the next obstacle on my way was that I couldn't install whatsapp from the play store because it wasn't designed to work on tablet environment that doesn't have a SIM card (stupid, i know) and to solve that I had to go to Whatsapp's website on the virtual machine and download the APK from there then install it. 
after that I just had to register with my phone number which I did but whatsapp uses a text message to verify your number which didn't work out in my case because I didn't have access to my texts (refer to the last paragraph and you'll know why)
after waiting for the verification text for about 5 minutes, Whatsapp allowed me to request a call to verify my number and when it did call me I received the call on my Gmail and got the verification code and in less than a minute whatsapp was up and running.

Of course with the laptop you don't get the mobility of a cell phone but it proves capable to save your day when you are in a situation like mine.