Thursday, July 30, 2009

Staying Connected: iPhone Traveling in Canada

As we crossed through North Dakota, I realized I hadn't yet activated the Canada voice plan nor the International Data Roaming, so both of us were in danger of the legendary roaming phone bills.

McDonalds in Bismark, just across the street from the cemetary, had free WiFi, so we pulled out our laptops and had lunch. Under the Features heading in my account, I found the radio buttons to click, adding voice and international data for the both of us. I chose the 50 Megabyte plan, hoping that by turning off Data Roaming in the iPhone network preferences except when I was actually using it, maybe I could get by on two or three MB a day. I also turned off email push and polling, no auto image downloads, and similar tweaks for my Twitter app.

We both reset our Usage numbers, and Mary Ann has been much better at avoiding using data roaming by tweeting via text message. I don't know if that is actually cheaper because international roaming texts are $0.50 each if I understand the ATT FAQ's correctly.

But the end result is that we are fairly isolated. I can't afford to check twitter twenty times a day as before. I am making certain I see all the @replies and DM's but ordinary tweets have a good chance of going unseen. I check email by loading just the subject lines and the first few lines, but unless a mail is time sensitive, I'll put off reading the whole thing and answering until I can get a motel Wi-fi signal, which may take a couple of days. Likewise, I write blogs on my iPhone Notes and copy them over when I have the chance. You may see delayed postings, and odd font styles for the duration of the trip. Sorry.

But thus far, as crippled as it is, I am still able to process important issues, like the email from my credit card company that was confused by the charges arriving from Canada the same time the air conditioner repairman posted his bill a few days late. And getting last minute updates to my convention schedule in place. We'll see how this works out.


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