Let's face it, there is only one good reason why you should apply for international roaming when you head out into the world. And that is to receive text messages. Try placing a call, or even a text message, from your roaming phone when you're out of the country and you'll soon realize that the rates ought to be illegal under the Geneva Convention. It's almost always cheaper to just get a SIM card in the country you're visiting and use it for your outgoing calls and text messages. Unfortunately, this defeats the purpose of putting your primary SIM card on roaming status. Case in point: at the moment, I am swapping SIM cards like crazy, plugging my primary SIM into my phone to check for incoming messages, and then plugging the Vietnam SIM card in for communications with my contacts here and elsewhere. Which is why I have decided that, before going on my next trip abroad, I should first buy myself another mobile phone. Even just a cheap tri-band one. That way, I don't have to wear my phone's SIM receptacle out with my constant swapping. Next time you decide to put your SIM card on roam, think about getting an extra phone to host your foreign SIM card. At the very least, it gives you a valid reason to shop, heheh.
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So my mom just got a new phone. A Nokia 3650. You know, the one with the outlandish rotary-layout keypad. And this finally replaced the trusty, reliable, and next-to-the-5110-perhaps-the-most-indestructible-phone-around Nokia 3530 which she had been using for ages now. In other words, she has finally entered the graphical interface age. Problem: my mom's pushing 70. And the entire concept of navigable graphics menus befuddles her no end. "Here's how you use it," I explained in my slowest, preschool teacher voice. "You push this button up to move the highlight up, down to push it down, left to move it left... and center to click." She just stared blankly at the phone's screen. I was contemplating the use of hand puppets to get my message across, but I just had to give up. The entire concept of using a set of keys that can move a cursor around a graphical menu in two dimensions is just too much for her to absorb for now. Us younger folks are the gaming generations, so we've taken it for granted that graphical user interfaces, whether for PCs or for phones, are so intuitive that any pedestrian can start using them on the fly. Like that scene in Star Trek IV when Scotty sees a 1980s-era Macintosh for the first time and starts clicking away at lightning speed to produce a chemical model for transparent aluminum in less than a minute. We (including Scotty) grew up with joysticks, gamepads and other interface devices, so a phone's navipad is second nature to us. For those who do not even know what a joystick is, however, the graphical user interface isn't necessarily as friendly as we assume it to be. And it may take some time before these genteel folks get to understand the feedback process that goes into moving a controller and seeing something moving on a screen in response. But I'm sure that my mom will hack it. Eventually. She did, after all, somehow manage to learn how to send text messages -- after sending out several hundred pesos worth of text to the wrong people and to total strangers. So I'm sure that after a few thousand pesos worth of accidentally using GPRS, inadvertently downloading unwanted wallpapers, and calling up total strangers by mistake, she'll eventually figure out the Nokia 3650's navipad. Eventually. NEXT DAY UPDATE: My mom switched back to her old phone.
I came from a press launch yesterday for LaCie, the French company that specializes in storage solutions for consumers and enterprises. One of the products they launched was the LaCie USB key. The small credit card size was not as surprising as it would have been if it was introduced two years ago but it still amuses me how such a small device can carry 8GB of data. Does this mark a new trend in portable storage where we'll stop carrying 512MB flash drives and go for these high capacity keys instead? Only time will tell. LaCie is distributed by Millenium Computer Technology Corporation and their products are now available at your favorite gadget outlets.
This is a little weird that we're doing this after two and a half years into the blog. We'd like to take the opportunity to introduce the regulars who've been writing for the magazine as well as in this blog. Let me start is off. You probably know me from the magazine as one of the managing editors. My name is Jayvee Fernandez and I'm involved in various online publishing projects and an active member of several local tech communities like PhilMUG, PodCentral and Mapalad.