WARNING: Mishmash ahead.
Haven’t yet packed, which means this is the perfect time to procrastinate with a blog entry. Or something like that.
I’m leaving tomorrow morning for a two-week work-related trip. See details of that trip, plus enjoy some of my phone, camera, T-Mobile, and other musings below.
My upcoming travels for May 29 through June 11
- LONDON: I’ll be attending the Search Engine Strategies conference in London, where Webmasters, marketers, advertisers, and others that care about making moolah on the Web will be hanging out. You gonna be there, too? Look for me and say hi! :-D. Oh, and just for the heck of it, feel free to check out my London 2001 photos and my London 2002 photos that I took during earlier (non-work-related) visits.
- BERLIN: I’ve gotten gleefully roped into a Google pan-European sales conference. Time for me to learn about new salesy stuff in the company, and I’m looking forward to sharing info about Search Quality and spam fighting with sales-type folks. Alas, every minute is pretty much accounted for, though, so I won’t have much free time to explore. I’ve visited Berlin in the past (fascinating city!), but will look forward to spending more time wandering around nooks and crannies during a future trip.
- DUBLIN: Definitely looking forward to re-visiting Ireland! I had a great time during an earlier visit… friendly folks, charming pubs… and now that the pubs are (at least in theory) smoke-free, I’m even happier! I’ll be visiting Google’s European headquarters here, meeting up with some colleagues over laptops and possibly a pint or three.
Other random stuff
My losing streak continues, sadly. In the last few months, I’ve had TWO cameras and TWO expensive phones stolen. It’s almost enough to make me either become a luddite or hire a personal assistant to thwack me on the head when I’m being particularly absent-minded.
Luckily, insurance will (at least in theory) be covering most of the cost of everything but one of the phones… and in an almost unbelievably example of “the kindness of strangers”… a colleague in the Atlanta Google office learned of my pathetic plight and IM’d me, “Hey, I don’t really use my Treo much, would you like it?” I said, sure, I’d consider it… what did she think would be a fair price? But no, she said, she was happy to just give it to me. And Fed-ex it to me next-day, just in time for my trip. Wow!
But alas, it didn’t quite make it here in time, and (understandably) none of my local friends just happened to have a spare tri-band phone to loan me. So in desperation, I went to a T-Mobile store and, after learning they only had dual-band loaners, decided to just bite the bullet and buy a phone. The salesman recommended a quad-band Motorola V188; it seemed pleasantly basic and small enough, and I figured $100—even with a required 1-year contract renewal—seemed fair.
Upon arriving back home, though, I noticed that Amazon is selling the same Motorola V188 with the same 1-year contract for… negative $145! That’s right, after the $35 new account fee, you get $110 cash back. So I basically got gypped out of $210! I’m pretty pissed. So I decided to call T-Mobile and I got—as usual—a delightfully friendly and helpful rep (this is part of the reason why I generally do love T-Mobile and didn’t mind renewing my contract). Alas, she said that the Amazon promo is, as it states, only for new customers. I expressed to her that I felt this was sort of a slap in the face for existing customers (especially those loyal ones way past their required contract term). After much time on hold, she offered to give me 30 free text messages (a value of $3). I thought this was pretty laughable, but at this stage in the game (leaving tomorrow), I just didn’t have the time to argue. The uber-moral of the story: if you’re looking to get a new phone, especially one more pricey than the entry-level one I bought today, you’re likely better off going through Amazon.com and just porting over your number.
Oh, and a few opening thoughts about this Motorola, compared to my Treo 650…
– It doesn’t cradle as nicely between my neck and shoulder.
– The speakerphone is decent.
– I don’t like the non-recessed volume buttons… worried about them getting pressed when in my pocket.
– There’s no “are you sure?” when writing a long SMS and accidentally hitting the cancel button. Blegh.
– It feels okay in my pocket. Really light. But I’d probably be more comfortable having a long and thin phone in my pocket.
– It’s so weird to not have a qwerty keyboard for texting or Web surfing. I already miss my Treo and can’t wait to get my replacement!
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I also got a new camera today, the Canon SD700. It is, admittedly, rather a splurge, but I don’t feel too guilty; I tend to spend money on the arts (music, theatre) and photography, and I guess everyone’s entitled to some guilty pleasures. 😀
Online, on the low-end (but still from trustable companies) it tends to go for about $470 (with no sales taxes due up-front). At retail stores near me, it’s going for, well, retail: $499 (plus tax). Ouch. I found out that Frys (Tech Gadget Mecca for Geeks) in San Jose had it for $449, and while I’d normally never drive down to San Jose (about 90 miles round trip from my apartment) just to save $50… in this case, I already had plans to go to a BBQ at my friend Merry’s house in Mountain View, so it all worked out. They also had a reasonably decent 2gb SD card for $49, which I also snagged.
Of course, the real cost of photography is in time. I still haven’t gotten around to processing the 1,800 or so photos from my recent trip to Australia and Singapore; at about a conservative one minute per cropping/fixing/tagging/titling/describing, that’s 30 hours out of my life just to post a bunch of photos. Even if I pick the top one-third to post, that’s still 10 hours of photofussing just for this one trip. Ack! Seriously, because of this (I know, it’s a little silly), I seriously considered whether I wanted the hassle of schlepping, protecting, using, and dealing with a camera + its byproducts. Nostalgia won out, though.
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Anyway, I probably better get packing. I’ll try to blog some stuff while I’m away, but it may be a few weeks ’til I’m bloggily back.