Posts about Gadgets

International phone tricks

Dave Winer has questions about using mobile phones in Europe. My answer (which I learned from Ken Rutkowski):

1. Get a local SIM card for GSM phone.*
2. Forward your US number to your Skype number.
3. Forward your Skype number to your European GSM number.
This way, people can call your local number and you can talk to them without paying international roaming. Calling the US won’t be cheaper on your mobile phone; for that, use Skype on your laptop while online.

* This requires that you have an unlocked GSM phone. Many GSM phones can be unlocked; just Google for those services or pay your provider for the privilege. I used a really old Nokia phone for years but got a web-ready PDA-phone in January so I can also get email on my phone — a godsend. Also, most providers in Europe sell pay-as-you-go SIM cards that don’t expire; that’s just reason No. 476 why their phone system is better than ours. The EU is also limiting roaming rates within Europe.

Also, Dave, find out whether you need an adapter on the plane for your laptop power. If you’re taking your MacBook, you have to buy that adapter from Apple and only Apple because it has the proprietary magnetic plug.

Plugged out

So I went to a large breakfast this morning thrown by the Newhouse School at Syracuse and The New Yorker (much more on that in a minute). Most of us were assigned tables and so I put down my briefcase and went off to schmooze, which is what one does at these things. I came back and my case was moved and chair occupied. I looked miffed — and various folks later hovered around to throw themselves on swords for this — but I was embarrassed to say why the chair mattered to me. It wasn’t because this was Table 8 and that enabled me to look down my nose at the poor sods at Table 10. It wasn’t because I was going to sit next to some media mogul and make a deal that would change my life and finances. It was because the chair was near an electric plug. We bloggers arrange our lives around wi-fi and plugs. To make my thought process even more pathetic, I then had to rearrange my route to the airport today so I could find someplace to recharge — because, you see, I didn’t want to be out one watt for the plane ride — or I contemplated going to the airport quite early to scope and stage out a precious plug there. Sad, isn’t it?

Smoking my Treo

It has been hell being without my beloved Treo for a week.

I realized that my Treo is my new cigarette. I smoke the thing. It’s not crack. It’s nicotine: a sneaker, day-to-day addiction. I use Treo at all the times I used to smoke: while eating, while walking, while driving (only at stop lights), while talking on the phone (but not to you), while in the bathroom (I admit it). No, Treoing after sex is not oddly satisfying.

In London, my Sprint Treo won’t work, so I used an HP Ipaq. It’s just not the same. The Windows interface is like smoking an unfiltered; it hurts. I couldn’t get the email to work sending my email; thank goodness I could grab all my mail with Gmail and use that instead. I was going nuts having to lift its lid and use that damned stylus. And it just doesn’t look good; it’s like a man smoking a Virginia Slim.

I’m glad to get back home to my Treo. And my family.

Two laptops per child

In December, I wished that the One Laptop Per Child project would sell the laptops to us at wildly inflated prices to subsidize laptops for children elsewhere. I suggested $500. Now the BBC reports that they are considering selling us two laptops with one going to the developing world — a less wildly inflated price. Count me in.

But can we hear on them?

Just before the Apple iPhone is supposed to be announced, the Observer says Orange is working on a Google phone.