Online everywhere

So, I’m sitting in a cafe in a big shopping centre, and I’m trying to decide whether I can afford a camera for my father-in-law. The camera shop I passed on the way to the cafe had cameras for £80 (this is real cameras, not compact ones). Too much (who do I look like, Evelyn de Rothschildt?). So I thought, Argos, that’s the place. However, I was in the middle of a cup of tea and a cigarette — very nice cup of tea, as it happens, but then you’d expect that for two quid — and didn’t want to get up and walk to Argos to see their prices. Clearly a time for the web. So, whip out the Zaurus and my mobile, connect (IR from Z to phone, net via Freeserve) and connect to the Argos website to check their prices. Now, I think that that’s pretty neat. Those of you thinking, that’s pretty neat, it is, isn’t it? Those of you thinking, Gordon Bennett, stop poncing about on your palmtop and get up and walk, I admit I can see your point, but, hey. What would have been rather nice is for there to be a wireless network inside the shopping centre, even if it only allowed you access to websites of firms who had shops there (although this would be difficult to police in a web containing hyperlinks). Can’t imagine it’d cost them much (and God knows the people who run the place are not hurting for a bob or two), and it’d be a really outstandingly neat feature. Not that I’ve got around to getting a wireless CF card yet, but I will do eventually, and I’d be first in line if there was actually a reason to do so (like the existence of publically available wireless networks, even with limited connectivity). Paul’s already written about the glorious future that awaits us with this kind of thing out there on the streets. I can’t wait for this, it’ll be great. We’re still very much in the infancy of this kind of tech. Argos didn’t have any non-compact cameras for under about fifty nicker, which was my budget. It took me 12 minutes online to find that out, although I have to tip the hat to the Opera people, because the Opera browser on my Z handled the Argos site with no qualms at all, JavaScript included. Nice one. Now, it took me so loing because I was using normal mobile dialup, which is 9600 baud. Very slo-o-o-o-ow. But, although my phone does GPRS, I (a) haven’t signed up for it, because the T-Mobile people pretend innocence when I ask about using GPRS and their APN (like it tells you in the Zaurus FAQ), (b) can’t use it, because coverage seems absolutely appalling (my phone, an Ericsson T68, apparently shows a little symbol when it’s in a GPRS-able area, and I’ve only seen the symbol once (and I live practically in England’s second city), and (c) I have no intention of using it, because it’s horrifically expensive by all accounts. In a world with cheap GPRS and a Bluetooth CF card for the Z, or better still a countrywide wireless network with cheap or no subscription, I’d probably have my Z connect every hour and get my email. That’d be outstandingly neat. Until then, I’ll settle for mobile phone dialup and sshing to my home machine. It’s low-tech (compared to the potential alternatives), but it gets the job done. ——-

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