austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Carve your number on my wall

Now, the full story of my week visiting bunny_hugger and my return to con-going ways I think has a logical precedent and one unexpected crash of life leading up to it so I'll go into that. The start of this piece is my conclusion that yes, I really should have a cell phone. It'd be convenient to have if, say, I were stranded on an obscure road somewhere (a lesser concern with the new car than the old, but still, always a possibility), or when trying to arrange meeting with someone at a highly fluid social situation like a convention, and for that matter in handling really personal matters like figuring out zoo memberships when I don't feel fully comfortable making calls about that on my office phone.

I'm not a fast shopper. I end up weighing options to the point that I'm lost in oblivion and end up buying the first thing I looked at. This is pretty much how my car buying went although that actually involved slightly less time spent looking at web sites and comparing alternatives. Serving as complicating factors: pretty much everyone in my immediate family is with Verizon, suggesting that deals with free calls to Verizon customers would be useful. And I make very few phone calls; back in grad school, I actually didn't get the standard Bell Atlantic phone service because I could do better paying for every call separately than wasting funds on that flat-rate local-call service. In Singapore I had multiple phone bills of under one dollar. Clearly, I can't justify one of those unlimited-minutes service plans that cost as much as multiple hardcover books per month.

Further complicating things: it struck me that what I do do is use the web, and one of those phones that has good web or data service would fit my needs nicely. This would speak well for a prepaid phone if it had a usable keyboard and data plan. (I've attempted text messaging on numeric keypads and the less said of that the better.) This proves to be a combination of services in which the mobile phone market does not currently excel. Still, there are prepaid phones with web services, although usually charging per megabyte which must be used in a day or something like 50 megabytes to use in a month. I could hardly guess what my projected use would be, but ... Verizon had this interesting mention in their prepaid cell phone plans: 99 cents for a day of Mobile Web access.

Verizon's prepaid phones have various plans, most of which amount to a per-day access fee where one pays (say) $1.99 on a day of use for unlimited calling to Verizon callers and per-minute charge to others. A dollar for a day of web site access would be not bad, unless there were a per-megabyte charge on top of that, or if you also had to pay the daily phone-use access on top of that. The flyers manage to be unclear whether there's a per-megabyte charge. The subscription plans have some per-megabyte use data plans, and some unlimited-use data plans. Ah, but surely a web site reviewing Verizon's plans will be clear about the terms of use, wouldn't it? It would if a web site did more than repeat what the flyers said.

So the logical thing to do after this is to ask an actual store clerk what the terms of service are. Surely this should clear things up easily.

Trivia: In the first half of 1865 Reuters's costs for telegraphic service to North America averaged £67 per month. In the first half of 1867 --- after the trans-Atlantic telegraph cable was in successful operation --- they averaged £424 per month. Source: The Power Of News: The History Of Reuters, Donald Read.

Currently Reading: The Victorian Eye: A Political History of Light and Vision In Britain, 1800 - 1910, Chris Otter.

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