Everday trivia…

I’m back from Miami and the TTI/Vanguard conference, where I gave an updated version of my standard stump speech, which starts with Fiji water and ends with Global Voices. (I talked a bit about the version of the talk I gave at Push the Future about a month ago in a post called “The Trouble With ‘Globophilia'”. This version of the talk didn’t talk about globophiles (either the pro-globalists or the lovers of balloons), but did talk about “the next billion”. Slides are here, if you’re interested. PDF, 9.2MB)

Vanguard is an intimidating and fun format for a conference. Speakers have a 45 minute time slot, but everyone in the audience has a microphone, and after a ten minute “head start”, they’re welcome to tap in. The first time I spoke for this crowd, I was completely flustered by the fact that my first two questions were from John Perry Barlow and Alan Kay. (Five years later, I’m grateful when the questions come from Barlow because I know he’s a die-hard globophile, whether or not he’d like the term…) And preparing a talk is always a great way to figure out what I think nowadays. I have high hopes of turning the last two versions of the talk into a long paper, which I’ll undoubtably be trying out on all of you here…

So now I’m spending the next few days at home getting ready for an upcoming trip to South Africa, London and Jordan. (My trip to South Africa has been somewhat complicated by funeral arrangements for Dick – we’re doing a memorial at his farm this Sunday, so I’ve cut short the Johannesburg part of the trip. No blogger dinner in Jo’burg, I’m afraid, but we’re still planning dinner for the 21st in Cape Town and the 28th in Amman.) I find that the stupid details of life – paying bills, getting reimbursed for expenses, solving dumb tech problems – never seem to get done when I’m at home for long periods of time, but in the 72 hours before I get on an airplane.

With that in mind, I spent a chunk of today trying to get my phone – a Nokia 6820 – to recover from AT&T Wireless’s merger with Cingular. Ever since the two companies became one, anything more complicated than a simple call on the phone has gotten increasingly different to accomplish. But with about an hour on Cingular’s site – and an additional hour on a couple of blogs, and I’ve got SMS, MMS, WAP and IMAP working again.

Given that on my last three trips to Jordan, my phone has failed to roam, I spent $1.99 and about three minutes at Uniquephones and unlocked the handset. (Yes, I’m aware there are free ways to do this. But most involve downloading an .exe to a PC, which isn’t an easy thing for me to do. $1.99 via PayPal was lots simpler for me.) I was surprised by how easy the process was. Unlocking a phone involves hashing the phone’s unique ID – the IMEI – and the operator code, and coming up with a 15 digit password (plus checksum) that tells the phone to become operator independent. Uniquephone finds the operator code via a series of pulldown menus, hashes the keys and spits out a set of codes likely to unlock your phone. Surprisingly slick and easy, compared to hanging out on #IRC and looking for phone haX0rs to help you out…

(Before anyone gives me a hard time for hurting poor Cingular, let me point out that I’ve paid back the $200 they subsidized my phone purchase 6 times over already, and that I’ll be using their network except in countries where they don’t have roaming agreements…)

In the process of learning more about this phone, I discovered two cool applications I had no idea it could run – j2me versions of ssh and irc. More than once, I’ve dreamed of accessing my servers via my phone – the MobileSSH client built by Idorokko works as well as I could imagine a shell working on the postage-stamp sized screen of my phone. I’m going to need to reorganize some files and write some new aliases to make it really useful, but I’m thrilled to have it. And the open-source jmIrc client works far better than I would have imagined. I’m very much looking forward to hanging out in the #globalvoices channel during my next airport day…

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One Response to Everday trivia…

  1. Bill Koff says:

    Really enjoyed your talk. I am using your slide (fully referenced of course!) on the next Billion in a presentation I am giving next week at the US Department of Commerce to 400 kids that are part of HOBY.

    I will also followup with you on South Africa and the program some of us technologists run each year to raise money, cultural exchange, building projects and education in support of Masiphumelele outside of Cape Town (http://www.masip.org)

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