Thursday, April 28, 2005

More issues with the new cell phone - but there's a solution!

This incredibe all bells and whistles phone may be great, I'm just not sure yet. As an example, I decided to sync part of my address book on the PowerBook using first Bluetooth, then USB. I could not make either work. What is more, it would appear that many cell phones are not compatible with Apple's iSync software and, naturally, the one I bought isn't. (But it may be included in OS 10.4 Tiger).

Google to the rescue (how many times a month do we say that?). I discovered I am not the first and won't be the last to have such problems. Fortunately a $10 shareware program exists - called OnSync - that not only allowed me to communicate using Bluetooth but also had really good blow by blow instructions for setting up a Bluetooth device. Money well spent, because the whole lot was going back to the store!

Technology - a Necessary Evil?



The purchase of a new cell phone (called a mobile in the UK) has me reflecting on this technological age we live in. I need a cell phone. Unfortunately. I can think of few things worse than listening to someone talking loudly into a cell phone on the train, inflicting other passengers with a one-sided conversation that means nothing, sounds worse and sets all around on edge. Don't these people realize that they don't have to shout into a telephone?

For me, the experience of selecting, buying and learning how to use a cell phone is a nightmare. Too much technology in too small a space. Too many bells and whistles I have to have because I need but a few of them. No, I didn't want a phone camera (I have a much better digital camera, thank you). No, I didn't want to play mp3s while waiting for a call to come through. No, I didn't want a hands free module (well, I do because it's the law, see picture above). No, I don't think I need to send e-mails and browse the 'net (that's what I have a laptop for). Etc. Etc.

What I do need is a phone (1) that will work anywhere in the world (in theory), (2) is compact and (3) is easy to learn to use. I have managed to score a difficult near 100% on (1), 100% on (2), and about 25% on (3).

It didn't help that the service provider gave me the wrong telephone number and then texted that number with an upgrade to its SIM (now there are two phones screwed up!). The manual is clearly aimed at 20 year old cell phone geeks, or is it that I have been spoiled by Apple Computer intuitivity for the past 15 years? Does anyone else share a bad cell phone experience?

BTW, the phone takes photos, plays music and videos and a whole lot more I am reluctant to talk about for fear of rising blood pressure. Consumerism is supposed to be good for the soul if not the checkbook? Not any more.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Back in Campden

Been a Rambling Man for a while (recommend Lemon Jelly's song as an accompaniment to this entry). Good to be back in Camden tho' there was some excitement while overseas, more of which later.

A number of items to catch up on:

The Apple Store Bullring (Birmingham) opens this Friday at 6 p.m., to coincide with the release of OSX Tiger (10.4).
The iPod Shuffle is a great travel companion.

I need a cell/mobile phone and choosing the phone and the plan is proving to be near impossible - I cannot be categorized as your average mobile phone user, apparently. That is, I am older than 18, I don't want to use the phone a lot, I am not interested in cameras, music, ringtones, games or style.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Pete Radio

The catholic musical taste(s) of my son Pete are broader than the keyboard on a grand piano. His first seven podcasts are available from Pete Radio Podcast Central. Although I can't say I like everything, the mixes are well thought out and you get that "I wonder what's next?" feeling as each song comes to an end.

Podcasting and mp3j-ing have taken off since the beginning of the year. Already 6 million Americans (of all ages) have downloaded at least one podcast. In most cases, musical podcasts are no different from an earlier genre of making a mix tape or CD to share with friends. They are not so much an exercise in sharing music as sharing musical taste. The record companies (once again, there goes the anachronism as they don't make records any more!) should understand that such podcasts are not a threat to business but a great way to promote their product by "word of mouth".

For example, I really enjoyed one track on Pete's Podcast 6 so I switched to the iTunes music store and downloaded the entire album. In another case I downloaded only the track I liked, leaving the rest of the album untouched. This method of getting out the message is just about the only way I am going to hear new music because I rarely listen to broadcast radio in the UK. And the record (sic) company and the artist have benefited from my purchase.

My local record store is 16 miles from home. Thus I am unlikely to go there just to buy an album (which knowing my luck wouldn't be in stock anyway). So surfing iTunes is a much easier and more cost effective way to shop.

Monday, April 04, 2005

BT Sucks

Last week we received our first quarterly bill for the broadband service that started in January. Before we received it we actually got a call from BT (India call center) asking us why we hadn't paid the bill. We next tried to explain that the bill was in error as we are still being charged for dial up as well as broadband. Call this number, they said. So we did. 20 minutes on hold and a person answers and start to sort things out. She admits we have been over-charged and then puts us on hold again to check that a new bill can be mailed. Then we get cut off.

At this point we are in a quandary. They are the phone company, we were cut off, they have our number, surely they will call us back. If we call them we simply get put on hold and they can't call us. So we wait. And we wait. No call.
So I send an e-mail. One of those you send from their web-site and as soon as it's gone, the message disappears (well, not quite, as I copied and pasted the text first into Pages). That was Thursday, March 30th. Have they replied? You, guessed - they haven't.

Then today we find we cannot send out e-mails. We pay extra for what BT calls their premium service. This allows us to send e-mails from focalplane.com. (Actually, BT Broadband doesn't include SMTP but they don't tell you this when they sell you the service). Well, it turns out our monthly payment was declined by our bank (we had received new bank cards) so I guess this was our fault. However, the BT (India call servcice) man assured me that an e-mail had been sent to our BT e-mail. I checked. No e-mails since the January 8 "welcome to BT Yahoo service" e-mail.

We can now send e-mails again but no doubt our telephone service will be cut off next as we haven't paid the bill they are supposed to be re-sending, hopefully corrected.