Mistakes were made

New York City meets Munich

Seconds on the Sidekick

January 12th, 2004 · No Comments · Uncategorized

After over a year of heavy use, I had worn down my black and white T-Mobile Sidekick keyboard until some of the keys were only intermitently working. Never mind that the case and screen were all scratched up from tossing it into my man-purse unprotected. It was time to upgrade to the color unit.

If only there were a way for an existing customer to upgrade.

T-Mobile has lots of great deals for new customers. But existing customers are treated like chopped liver. To me, this seems sort of backwards priorities, but what do I know.

In fairness, T-Mobile has offered (and then ended, then reoffered) an upgrade program, but they only offer a small discount. You basically save about $100, paying $250. Annoying when you know new customers pay $150.

Since my unit was mostly functional, I could not justify paying that much. I waited, got scammed on eBay once (which was resolved by Paypal, amazingly), and waited more.

When I saw Amazon selling Color Sidekicks for $100 after rebate, I wished that I could pay that little. I examined the terms, and found that you could be an existing customer, but you had to activate a new number. So if you bought a phone for your wife, you would qualify.

ConnyWho is Conny? already has a cellphone on our T-Mobile account for emergencies and such. It’s a triband she brought from Germany, but it has massive battery issues and she never uses it. I am the only one who knows the number.

And thus a scheme was born. I would buy the color Sidekick from Amazon with a new number. When it arrived, I would swap SIM cards between the Sidekicks. The new number would now go with my old Sidekick. Conny View definition in a new window would get that Sidekick, and we cancel her old cellphone number, which we’ve had for over a year, so we have no obligation or fees.

And that’s how I got my Color Sidekick upgrade for $100. And also how Conny got her Sidekick, though she doesn’t use it that much. But now there’s almost no reason why we can’t use AOL Instant Messenger to keep in touch no matter where are. Romantic nerdvana.

The color Sidekick is only an incremental improvement, but it’s a subtly important one. The display is much more legible, and with the latest software update, the radio/wireless connection is much more robust. It reveals itself in how much less frustrating the Sidekick is to use.

Assuming it is the software, mind you. Either that or T-Mobile has beefed up coverage in New York City, something I doubt. Though I do suspect they fixed something in their network data infrastructure which helped, at least in my location.

The new firmware finally adds cut and paste, which for me is key. I can write posts on my Sidekick now. And the new Blogger site works in the Sidekick browser as well (though some features don’t, like setting post date and time.)

They’ve also put in the infrastructure for third-party apps, though other than a few samples, there’s not much available. One example is an SSH client, which I love. It is slow, but it does work. And as a webmaster, having a pocket SSH cient is damn handy.

All in all, I am more attached than ever to my Sidekick. But now I always slip it into its little pouch for transit, and my screeen still looks brand new.

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