Friday, 2 November 2007

Staying connected...

Having just spent some time away from the University at meetings, conferences and on leave, a few random thoughts about staying connected.

I have a mobile phone which allows me to browse the internet, and read my email if I can be bothered to wait for it to download. It won’t however synchronise properly with myCalendar – partly my fault for using an iMac and not having a PC, but mainly because of the incompatibility of the different phones and the different calendar and synchronisation clients. It’s not bad for making phone calls from, but terrible to receive them on – to answer a call you have to hit a tiny button, and if you don’t, the call gets cut off. Apologies to the many people who phone me and get cut off after a couple of rings. I need a new one, but more on that later….

I also have a Macbook Pro which I can use to connect to wireless networks – Eduroam if I’m at another University, various hotel and conference networks, and, if I give them my credit card details, pay as you go networks.

I recently got a Vodafone USB modem for it which has revolutionised my train journeys – it connects to the 3G network if there is one and ordinary GPRS if there isn’t. When connected to 3G it’s really fast, GPRS is OK for scanning email but downloading attachments is painful. But, there are drawbacks. I’m not now reliant on a wireless network – so I can use it anywhere – even on holiday, where the temptation to “just check your email in case there’s something urgent”, is great. And then when you’ve had a quick look, you can’t resist reading some of them, and then answering them, and then getting cross, and then spoiling your holiday.

I recently discovered another downside of the Vodafone modem – it comes with parental content control already switched on. And it’s not easy to get turned off. Now, in case you think I discovered this by trying to access some dodgy web site, you’d be mistaken. I was actually trying to get to some of my pictures of the Information Commons which I’d uploaded to Flikr to include in a report. Unfortunately Vodafone blocks access to Flikr. But not to YouTube. Strange.

MUSE is a fantastic way of staying connected, with access to mail, calendar, filestore, corporate applications etc - I have no problems blowing our trumpet over this one. We were one of the first Universities in the UK to implement such a feature rich portal, and we are continuing to develop it. One day, you may even be able to run applications though it. More on that in a later post.

Now, back to me needing a new mobile phone. Want I really want is an iPhone. They are beautiful. Never mind what they can do, they are fantastically designed and have a wonderful interface – only when you’ve tried one, as I did last week, can you begin to appreciate this. Of course, there will be a few problems to overcome, such as the fact that they are tied to the O2 network and we have a contract with Vodafone, the fact that they won’t work with the Eduroam network because they don’t support the correct standards, and they don’t use the 3G network. Problems I’m sure will eventually be overcome. Roll on November 9th…..


Anonymous said...

Hello, i was just reading and enjoying your interesting blog and discoverd you ran into the same problem as me....parental controll on vodafone usb! it is highly annoying as you know yourself it wont let you acsess the simplest of sites but yet youtube is available,dont understand it.
if your not too busy and could help me out with turning it off i'd really appreciate it,thank you very much. janine (

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