Ming the Mechanic:

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 P9002004-02-26 07:47
picture by Flemming Funch

I finally have another cell phone. Which I was in two minds about. We've actually been doing perfectly fine with just one cell phone for the family. Which is strange, as we had five cell phone accounts in L.A., and that seemed about right. But it is a bit in the same category as that we had three cars to drive, and it was hard to imagine much less. But now, if I hint at that we maybe should find out how to have a car soon, everybody else says "A car!?! What on earth do we need a car for?" And if I suggest that I might get one more cell phone account, it also goes: "What would you possibly need that for?!" We've gotten used to living a bit more simply, and are actually quite happy with that. So I'm hesitant to restart the "arms race" of trying to keep up with the things one is "supposed" to have, as one thing leads to another, and new things create new needs, and it doesn't really end.

But what makes the difference now is that I'm being paid for watching servers again. Which means that to seem to do my job I need to be reachable all the time, and that I can have my servers send me pages when something needs attention. And preferably also that I can look at various monitoring webpages, and that I can log into a server and restart something. And an IM program like ICQ would be really nice. Then I can actually go somewhere without being constantly worried about what might be going wrong in the meantime.

Last time I made a serious attempt at getting most of that to work was two years ago. A bluetooth GPRS tri-band GSM phone (Nokia 3610i) and a Palm handheld with an added bluetooth module, so it could talk with the phone. Which sounded like it would do what I wanted. But the phone seems to have a buggy bluetooth implementation, so it would tend to disconnect often. And the bluetooth module for the Palm sticks out at the end, so I can't really put it in my pocket like that, and the connector to it broke as well. I did manage to get a persistent GPRS connection to work a few times, and I got ICQ to run on the Palm. Which was great for about two minutes, until the Palm shut off, which it does if you don't touch it for a little while. Which killed my idea of having ICQ running in my pocket. And the always-on net connection over GPRS only worked for me in Europe. In L.A. I was using Cingular as provider, and they had just started implementing GPRS and it worked badly and slowly. So I was pretty much back to just receiving pages by SMS.

And my drawers are full of other, earlier attempts of attaining always-on connectivity while being mobile. Several Palm devices, like the VII which had built-in wireless, except for you couldn't do anything very useful with it. Various kinds of cards for my laptop. A CDPD cellular modem, which had trouble finding a signal just about anywhere. A Ricochet card, which worked wonderfully all over L.A. and in various airports, for about a month, until the original company went under. And then a long string of mobile phones, going back to almost 20 years ago when it was a $2000 suitcase you could indeed carry, but it wasn't exactly handy.

So, I don't quite think it is the holy grail yet, but my new Sony Ericsson P900 actually seems to work. It has a big color screen and a built-in PDA. The bluetooth and GPRS actually works. I can run an IM program and it actually keeps running after I put it back in my pocket. I can run a terminal program and log into servers with SSH. I can actually look at a webpage in a somewhat useful way. And as a bonus it has a built-in camera and it is easy to send a picture or video by MMS or e-mail. And MP3 player and other goodies. Anyway, the picture thing is particularly cool, as it means I'll be able to do a moblog and post pictures on my blog on the fly without having to first go home and download my camera and upload by ftp.

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26 Feb 2004 @ 13:27 by jstarrs : I'm not happy with...
...the others definitions:

* Personal Digital Assistant, a type of handheld computer.
* Public display of affection, an area of study within social psychology.
* Patent ductus arteriosus, a medical term referring to a congenital defect where the ductus arteriosus fails to close after birth.
* Pushdown automaton, a type of abstract device in automata theory.  

26 Feb 2004 @ 14:42 by ming : PDA
Wow, I didn't quite point to the right page there. Ha, yeah, "Public display of affection" being an "area of study within social psychology", that's a little, eh, misleading. I thought it was something you did on a park bench with your new girlfriend.

Anyway, my new phone has all of that, of course. Except for, hopefully, the birth defect.  

27 Feb 2004 @ 05:50 by jstarrs : Wow!
A cell phone with a park bench???  

27 Feb 2004 @ 23:11 by Dana Husband @ : Worry
Worry????. Ming you worry that something might go wrong on a server and that you might not be able to respond promptly? Life is too short to for that logic. We all know that things do go wrong, especially when all is going humming smoothly.

Worry is a state of mind that is easily turned off. So what is a sever is down for few minutes or hours. People will see a blank page and accept it or else make a phone call. Your employers have been there before and will be again. Being connected is freedom but for your peace of mind minimize the worry content. Time passes quickly and all is corrected over time, so there is virtue in being patient.  

28 Feb 2004 @ 07:27 by ming : Worry
Heheh, I'll try to tell that to the people I work for. Well, yes and no. People who do something of any magnitude with technology, particularly with Internet servers, will know that things do go wrong, and you can't always safeguard yourself against it. And if you can't do anything, worry is pretty useless.

But what I'm talking about is on the order of a company having a hundred servers with some substantial commercial activity on them. So, if some key thing is down so that they might all be out of touch, it easily costs them $1000/hour, plus they'll have not one, but hundreds of messages in their mailbox in the morning from angry customers. And, well, sometimes it happens and there's no reason to worry about it unnecessarily. But what I'm paid for is being the one who knows right away when something is wrong, rather than in the morning when somebody shows up in the office and checks the messages. So, if I can't know what's going on, I worry. If I'm just informed, there's no reason to worry, as I can just do whatever is necessary.  

28 Feb 2004 @ 15:58 by Danny @ : I hate you!!!
Flemming, just wanted to let you know that I hate you. You always get all the cool gadgets. No fair!!!  

28 Feb 2004 @ 16:10 by ming : Gadgets
Well, it has been a little slim with gadgets for quite a while, but I'm glad I'm able to be the target of envy again.  

28 Feb 2004 @ 17:02 by maxtobin : Hee hee Flemming
Can't get away from California and the old "He who dies with the most toys wins" mentality eh!!!
Glad to hear that you have employment that is right up your street again.

I guess that the Sony Erricson P900 leaves the Treo in the dust and it probably does not run palm OS so {link:http://www.snappermail.com/palm/email/|Hot Kiwi app for PDA!} would not be of interest.  

2 Mar 2004 @ 04:26 by jstarrs : C'est combien...
..le P900, Ming, en France?  

4 Mar 2004 @ 15:20 by ming : P900
499 euro. Tres cher.  

4 Mar 2004 @ 15:22 by ming : Toys
Palm is cool too, Max. Although I must admit to having several in my drawer that I'm not using. But I was missing that it is together with my phone, as it then is natural for me to use it. I was looking at the Treo 600 as well, which is also very nice.  

Other stories in
2012-05-03 00:04: An evolving path
2012-01-02 13:52: 2011 Accomplishments and 2012 Aims
2011-11-17 02:20: Your inner piece
2011-02-01 00:05: Slow Mo Flow
2011-01-22 18:40: Recognition
2010-08-23 00:36: Where's Ming?
2010-07-20 14:24: Getting other people to do stuff
2010-06-22 00:27: Inventory
2010-06-19 23:10: Conversations
2009-10-28 12:31: Then a miracle occurs

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