GSM Cell phones, Palm PDAs, and Bluetooth - Return of the Rings

GSM Cell phones, Palm PDAs, and Bluetooth - Return of the Rings

Part Three. The story continues.

Disaster strikes

Okay, here is some free advice for you world travellers. Don't leave your luggage unattended in Paris for even a millisecond, because it won't be there when you look back. And along with it my Motorola V66 phone. Pity, I love that phone. I was going to give it to my wife, instead of that P280 that was large and clunky, and, gasp, at least a year old by how. Now, you of the inquiring minds might ask, what was my phone doing in my luggage, more precisely, my backpack? Well, you see, I had just purchased yet another phone while travelling, a Sony Ericson T610. It has a colour screen, it has a build in camera, and it has the coolest ring tone. Everybody wants my ring tone, which basically sounds like one of those very old phones, like, 1950s type. The battery life is not as good as the V66, and the fact that it is not a flip phone makes it quite a bit bigger than the V66, and the camera is really not that good, the pictures are quite fuzzy and very small, but it does have something neat: It has bluetooth built in. Yes, now there is a few phones that have bluetooth, but back then it was the first one that did, as well as doing triple band. It's also not that cheap, but hey, it has bluetooth.

Bluetooth rant

Actually, talking about that, I never did understand the concept of this. Bluetooth was originally developed to be a low power, low cost alternative to WiFi, so that it could be integrated into just about anything. You can get Bluetooth Mice, Bluetooth keyboards, Bluetooth headphones. But none of them are cheap. Actually, to buy a bluetooth adapter is more expensive than to buy a WiFi adapter, but bluetooth is implemented on a single chip that costs less than a few cents to manufacture, so, why is it so expensive when you buy any device that has it built in? Are the licensing charges so high? Puzzling.

Surfing the Web on my Palm

In any case, the reason why I bought the Sony Ericson T610 is because I wanted to connect my Palm Tungsten T with my phone, and be able to surf wirelessly. So when I got back to Canada, I once again talked to my friendly Rogers people, and the provided me with a replacement SIM card of the one that was stolen along with my other phone, for the proud price of $25. Plug it in, it works. Now the fun begins. Talking to Rogers technical support, to see if I could get a data plan put on my phone so that I can use my Palm to surf over. First I end up with the wrong plan, which gives me 2 MB per month of data transfer, but only WAP access. I wanted full TCP/IP access, so that I could access any website. Okay, second technical support person, sells me my plan, and then asks me what type of a phone I have. Oh, it's a Sony Ericson T610. We don't see that phone. I know, I bought it from somebody else. Well, sorry, we can't support it then. Oh, well can you at least give me the information? Yes, here is the bla bla bla. Okay, typed all the information into my palm, and after playing with the parameters for a while, I could get out and surf on my palm. Geeky? Yes, definitely! But it worked.

Enter the Apple Macintosh Powerbook G4

So then I also go out and buy a new laptop. My old one was a Sony, and although it was a very nice unit looks wise, it was horrible on batteries. I had dual batteries in it, and after a year, I would get less than half an hour out of both of them. Upon phoning Sony to see what was up with this, I got the usual 'oh, that is just the way it is' answer. Thanks guys. I decided then and there that I would never buy another Sony Laptop in my life, simply because of the lousy support they offer. They make good phones and good CD players, but as for Laptops, no thanks, especially when their spare batteries cost something like $300 Cdn. In any case, the laptop was in the same bag as the V66, so it too was gone. But I wanted to try something new anyways, and I decided I finally follow a Apple MacIntosh Powerbook G4, 12 inch model. Wonderful little computer, love that thing. But more on that at a later time. One of the things that convinced me to get one was, yes, you guessed it, built in bluetooth. How much fun can one person possibly have? Then I learned about iSync. What a fantastic little application. It synchronizes my calendar as well as my address book across my Tungsten T, my Sony Ericson T610, and my Mac, all automagically. It's amazing. And the best part is, it does it all without wires or other such nonsense. All goes across bluetooth. So when I travel, I don't need to take a million sync cables with me, just my basic units. Slick! Finally I have the same phone numbers, contacts, and appointments in all three devices. And as I just sat up a WebDav account on my server, I can even publish my calendar to my workgroup for my associates to see. Sometimes technology is amazing. WebDav was actually quite easy to set up on my Debian Linux server, once you get beyond the initial issues, but more of that later as well.

Failure in the end

In any case, where the story is going to end today is that, a few month later, I once again try to surf on my Palm, and suddenly there is nothing. I swear I did not make any changes, but suddenly everything stopped working. So, once again I call Rogers, and they don't want to help be unless I buy a phone from them. I call Palm and they say it's a Rogers problem. And I call Sony-Ericson, and I swear it must either be the same person as the last time, or they all work from the same script: 'Well, that's just the way it is'. Boy, do I love these intercompatibility issues, where everybody points at the next person and claims it's not their problem. So I cancelled my data plan, and decided that surfing on my new Mac Powerbook G4 is much more fun anyways.

Hey, other people spend their lives watching reality shows, I am living one. Same weird characters, except that nobody has voted me off the island yet, or fired me. Makes you wonder though if somebody is right now watching me ...

The beginning of the story
More details on GSM, SIMs, GPRS, and cell phone companies in general.