diamond geezer

 Thursday, July 22, 2010

I've got today off work. It seemed like a good idea before I saw the weather forecast. Sneak out into the real world before the schools break up. And use the special "very cheap days out from London" Oyster offer before it runs out on Sunday. Today's weather forecast suggests I may not have chosen my day wisely, but if I choose my destination wisely I may only get a bit damp rather than drenched.

I also thought it was about time I did another one of my blogging Mystery Tours. Those trips where I go somewhere without telling you where it is, and then send you clues from my mobile so you can try and guess where I am. I usually do those on Saturdays, so I thought a weekday excursion might stir a bit more audience reaction. Simple, I just send an email from my mobile to Blogger, and it appears magically on the blog. I've had the capability since 2005, and I don't make nearly enough use of it.

Except my mobile isn't playing ball. It sent emails perfectly six months ago, and I haven't changed any of the internal settings, but today it refuses. 'Server not found', it says, despite the fact I'm pretty certain the server exists. If I try tweaking the settings, using some different combination of what I think my email details are, I can get a completely different error message. But I can't connect successfully, and I can't send a message out. Which is rubbish.

I don't understand why sending an email from a mobile is so complicated. There always seem to so many bits of information to get right - usernames and server names and passwords and the like - then absolutely no clues as to which bit it might be that's stopping the service from working. It's like the mobile company don't want me to spend any money sending things, they just want to trap my messages in an outbox and leave me incommunicado.

There again, I'm still using a mobile phone that's more than three years old. You remember 2007, life was simpler then. No big screen smartphones with multifunction interactive ability. No iPhones with plug and play email apps. No foolproof communications that today's mobiles take for granted. I may be spending less than £100 a year for pay-as-you-go simplicity, but I'm paying the price for lack of functionality.

So I'm still going to go on my cut-price out-of-London trip today, but I'm not going to be able to blog any updates from along the way. That's a proper mystery tour for you. What I'll probably do is send some clues via Twitter instead, except that 140 characters is so much less interesting than 140 words, for which I apologise. I should warn you that my mobile can't read anything on Twitter, it can only send, so there's no chance of an interesting two-way conversation building up. And because my phone is from the Dark Ages, I'll have to wait until I get home before I can read any of the guesses you've written in the comments box.

Maybe after three years it's finally time to upgrade my phone again. I've only had four mobiles since 1998, each cutting edge at the time but oh so rapidly overtaken by technological advances. Maybe when I get to wherever I'm going today, I should head to the shopping centre and investigate a little further. But do I really want to spend a small fortune on some modern device (and its annual contract) merely so that I can send cryptic clues from Margate or Coventry or Milton Keynes or Winchester or wherever? I think maybe I'll resist total interactivity in my pocket for a little longer.

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