Link to Profile Semperoper, Dresden Sieg (auf dem Siegesäule), Berlin Brandenburg Tor, Berlin Skyline, Frankfurt am Main

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Fear of Commitment
aka Poor Man's Crackberry

This Christmas gift came a week early. The Partnerin thought it would be nice to replace my Motorola cell phone, which was on death's door, with something like the Blackberry I gave up when I left my last company.

I forgot how addictive these things are. I also had no idea how expensive they could be since the service contract was picked up by my old company, something that is unlikely to happen in the near future with my current company.

Worse still I haven't decided what I want to do or where I want to be in the coming year, so I'm more likely to commit to marriage than I am to a two year contract with T-Mobile or Vodafone. In fact, I've been using call-by-call for over a year precisely because I've been planning/threatening to move for nearly a year now. But I did sign up for the EUR 5 per month flat-rate Vodafone-live portal on top of my call-by-call service.

For the most part, Vodafone-live is worthless. It gives you links to a number of content providers (streaming video, news, etc.), of which the vast majority require paid subscriptions. Want to see CNN mobile, you pay EUR 10 per month on top of the EUR 5. There are other combinations, like EUR 2.50 per month for 2 hours or so. Same deal for all the other channels. There are a couple free ones, but aside from the "free" weather report, it is largely worthless. Except for ...

When you sign up for the unlimited UMTS Live Portal, you get an enhanced e-mail account (you get a basic e-mail account with the Call-ya, if you bother to activate it). The enhanced e-mail gives you quite a bit of capacity as well as the ability to somewhat customize your e-mail address. You also get to send and receive attachments. And you can program it to "scrape" your other e-mail accounts to look for any new mail you have received there.

When you receive an e-mail at the Vodafone address or one of those you have "scraped" to it, it sends you an SMS giving you the ID of the sender and the subject line. With the enhanced service you get up to 50 of these notifications each day at no additional cost. You can then decide whether or not to go online and retrieve any or all of these messages. Not quite push e-mail service, but not a bad workaround for the small cost and the lack of commitment required.

If you use the Live-Portal to access this e-mail, it is included in the EUR 5 per month. Once you get past the very clumsy interface(which I believe is deiberately clumsy to keep people from adopting this is as their own version of Crackberry), it can be quite useful for keeping up on the e-mails you really want to see.

One caution: Your Call-ya access gives you access to pure data connectivity at what seems to be like more than full rates. You can use the web-browser or e-mail client built into your phone, but if you do you might find yourself paying something like EUR 5.00 or more just to download your e-mail headers. Do this a couple times, and you may as well have sprung for a full data connection.

In other words, if you don't have patience for the Live Portal interface, or if you are a power user who wants more flexible access to the web or e-mail, go for the full data service and even the push-mail, but if you are really only worried about timely receipt of a couple or a few e-mails a day and don't want to be on the hook for the full monty, you can make do with this.


Blogger Scott said...

Um, okay. So, did you get a Crackberry, or not? Or, was the point of all of this to show us how the Vodaphone service is "good enough?"

Just many non-work emails a day do you get where instant notification/reply is vital? I've put myself on an email diet. I used to have Outlook check email every 5 minutes. With nearly a dozen different email accounts (don't ask!), the toaster looked more like a pop up target. Drove me nuts.

Now, I check my email twice a day: once in the morning and once in the evening. Otherwise, all I'd do is get side-tracked by email all day. (I should probably explain that I work with folks in Asia and the US, not in Germany even though I live here, so my morning is Asia's afternoon and my evening is the US's afternoon).

Now, if I could just do that with RSS feeds...

8:22 PM, December 18, 2006  
Blogger Mike B said...

Cut me some slack, Scott. I was having a slow day and needed to post something.

I get enough non-work e-mails to make it worth my while but not worth a real subscription.

11:08 PM, December 18, 2006  
Blogger Scott said...

Hmmm, was that picture there yesterday? I can see now what you meant by a poor man's Crackberry (as opposed to the real deal), but I don't remember seeing that picture yesterday.

Nice phone, btw. What do you use more, SMS or email?

8:18 PM, December 19, 2006  

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