I am just back from a vacation to Scotland – took some of my buds over with me!! In preparation for this trip I kind of went on a tech gadget spending spree. Shock horror, yes I spent some of my hard earned dosh.
Picked up my Ipod Touch and a netbook and some headphones with the special built in microphone for the Touch. Then I signed up to Skype, iCall and FlightStatus.
All of this was designed to make it easy for me to stay in touch with UK and US people while I was in the UK. Needless to say, actual performance of this did not live up to expectations.
Not that it was the hardware that was a problem. Wasn’t even the software that caused me much in the way of issues. No, it was the darn wifi network connectivity that was dismal!
The hotel wanted to charge me $15 for 24 hour wifi access – or use the PC for free in the reception area – guess what I chose! So then I was like, no biggie, just got to find one of these wifi cafe places – like McDonald’s or Starbucks. Yes, they had them, but we were never going to them when I needed the access. Can’t very well drag my friends of to McDonald’s while I make a Skype call to book a restaurant for dinner!
Even at the airport which had signs posted all around about free public wifi – never once was I or anyone around me able to connect to it. Sometimes I could connect, but the response was so slow I would have used up my battery before I got my tweet out!
In Edinburgh I gave up and bought a pay as you go cellphone for $50. The cellphones there are so much more advanced than US ones – it even has an FM radio in it! Everyone texts over there, and I now understand why it is so popular – no PC and always connected!
The Skype account was actually quite good – I created an online number that was local to the UK so that anyone calling me in the UK can use a cheap call to get to me – even when I am in the US. It also lets you forward the call to another phone number – cell or land-line and then to voicemail.
Verizon gave me global cell phone before I left, but even with the plan it would have cost 99c a minute – even to check voicemail. I was much to worried to use it often. Wouldn’t bother with this again.
The touch was still good – even without my precious internet access. I downloaded an app before I left called Stanza which is like an ebook reader. They have a bunch of library books that are free – got a nice Agatha Christie one and then a new release book too. Invaluable when jet-lag kicks in at 3.30am!!!
So next time, I will take my new phone over to the UK and just get a new SIM card for it – sound all geeky now, but the lady in Carphone Warehouse set the phone all up for me – phew!!! Then I can text my buds and not feel like such an offline loser when I have to ask how to send an SMS….