Ratcheting up my connectivity
So, I've been gradually increasing my personal technology base recently. About two weeks ago, I acquired an Apple AirPort 2.0 base station and an AirPort card for my Ti Powerbook. The base station, which also acts as a NAT firewall, arrived just in time–one of my UPSs failed to kick in with a power dip, and the disk in my old Pentium Pro (which I had been running a firewall on) crashed, knocking the household LAN off the Internet
The Airport is easy to get up and running, as advertised. But it obviously doesn't like PC clients–it keeps cutting off the 2 W2K clients on my LAN from the net. I end up having to run ipconfig /renew a couple of times a day (every time my wife yells “The Internet is down!”) on them to get them reconnected. I tried using a constant ping to keep them from being timed out, but that didn't work; there doesn't appear to be a keepalive setting anywhere in the config for the AirPort, so there's no way to fix it in s/w. It's annoying as hell.
With my tech frustration level not yet maxxed out, I went out and got a WAP phone from AT&T. There's nothing more hellacious than putting a cell phone company in charge of something with an IP address. After about three hours on the phone with AT&T PocketNet tech support (and I have to admit they were at least courteous and well versed), I finally could get e-mail on my phone and surf a selected set of WAP sites. For another $10, I could get the privelage of entering my own URLs.
This is the fundamental problem with WAP service. Sure, there's a plethora of content offered up as part of my “Plus” service–and I'm only paying $7 a month for access to it–but there's no way for a content provider to go direct to the consumer. The cell phone company has re-intermediated the disintermediation that made the Internet what it has become.
Mind you, it's a lot easier for content providers to make money directly from the phone company. But it does raise the barriers to entry a bit higher. Which is part of why I think this whole m-commerce crap everyone keeps ranting about in the trades is still pie in the sky.
Still, it's nice to be able to get my e-mail from my personal POP account on my cell phone–and to be able to respond to it. And the price (free phone, essentially, plus $7 a month plus airtime) beats the RIM Blackberry by an order of magnitude or two.