Some of the more perceptive Mobotniks may have picked up on the fact that I’m in Australia this week. But this ain’t no holiday, no sir. Mobotorial Director, Emma Kelly, threatened to have bad things done to my privates if I didn’t turn in my usual worky stuff while I’m over here. So here I am, driving through the middle of nowhere and thinking about mobile phones.
I’ll be honest and say that I’m not entirely certain where I’m going with this Friday feature, but I imagine the vague themes will be travel and technology. When they’re good, they’re very good; when they’re bad, there’s nothing worse (technology and travel, that is, but the same logic probably applies to my features).
I picked up a Three mobile broadband dongle over here with the intention of working while on the road. I figured I could type away while my lady friend handled the driving, hence minimising the disruption to our sightseeing type stuff.
Alas, Australia consists of countless expanses where there’s little to no reception at all; just glorious green fields and trees and rivers (or creeks, if you will). The odd mobile cell here and there wouldn’t go amiss, but they would be a bit of an eyesore on the otherwise stunning scenery. Stupid selfish Mother Nature.
As such, I’m relying almost entirely on free Wi-Fi provided by McDonald’s. It’s fairly depressing, but it does give me a valid excuse for eating Big Macs, which isn’t usually permitted by the other half.
Our mobiles have been invaluable thus far. Well, maybe not mine, to be fair. I’m still rocking my UK SIM, with data roaming disabled. Pretty much all I can do is SMS, but I’m on a sweet old-school tariff that means a text back home simply takes four out of my fairly generous monthly allowance.
Incidentally, just thinking out loud here, but I really need to change my tariff when I get home. I recently picked up an HTC Desire HD and it’s consuming data like there’s no tomorrow. 3G Watchdog has been a Godsend, ensuring I don’t go over my monthly limit.
Where the heck was I? Ah yes, our mobiles. Obviously my 8MP HD is pretty sweet for taking pics, too, but the iPhone with its Australian SIM is the real life-saver here. Not that the iPhone is particularly great; there just happens to be an Aussie SIM inside.
We’ve been using Maps constantly to find our way about. The estimated journey times have helped us plan almost to the minute. I have no idea how people managed to travel around in the old days. I’ve heard rumours of paper-based maps, but I’m not sure how that’d work exactly.
We’ve also been using data to find those bloody McDonald’s “restaurants”. Jeebus knows how we’d locate them without good old data. I guess we could ask the locals, but can you imagine how embarrassing that’d be?
A little tip for you while I’m rambling on about Maps. If you don’t have a data connection while travelling abroad, it’s a good idea to plan ahead and take screenshots while connected to Wi-Fi (in your hotel, say), that way you can check out directions while offline.
Oh, and I almost forgot that we’ve been using our phones to blast music through the campervan’s stereo, via the auxiliary input. Sadly that means I have to endure stuff like Best Diva Ballads Volume 9 when the lady is driving, but at least it keeps her quiet.
So, in conclusion, phones are great travel companions. You can plan driving in stages, find Mcdonald’s wherever you go, listen to rubbish music, and take pictures of awe-inspiring scenery.
See? I did have a point. And you thought I was just rambling incoherently again. Shame on you.