"A Fail Derail"

2009
Apr
28

I must confess to a little bit of FAIL on my own part in preparing that post about “This Is Broken”ness. I dug up my little-used digital camera that I got cheap at woot.com to take pictures of the signs at the on-and-off-ramps, but when I brought it home, I couldn’t find the USB cable to connect it to any of my compooters. If you’re not a total Luddite, you ave probably accumulated various USB cables to connect various things, and noticed how many variations are for the end of the cable that connects to the not-a-compooter. Most cameras use one kind of plug, printers use another, external harddrives use something else. And all of the USB cables I could find connected to something other than a camera. FAIL.

Fortunately, a couple days later I went out to buy something to replace my Tracfone (acquired some time ago because I was both very cheap and very broke). I ended up getting another unit from Tracfone, mostly because I had some unused minutes with them (I am still rather poor but very cheap, and I don’t use it that much. All the new models come with “lifetime doubling” of all airtime purchased for it, which I suspect they have to do because other pay-as-you-go services now had a price advantage (10¢ per minutes from Net10 tempted my inner cheapscape). I went to Target hoping to get a model that was $10 less there than at Walmart (HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?!?), but I wasn’t the only one, and they were out of stock (probably until they could ship more with higher price stickers). But another model looked shiny and yummy, so I went for the Samsung Slider. Now I wonder if the marketing people at Samsumg knew that in much of the U.S.ofA. the word “slider” is a slang term for a really small hamburger.

So now I own a phone with more features than I want… about 120 less features than an iPhone, but still more than I want. But I realized on my way home that there was one feature I never wanted on a phone that I could use right away. The camera. (Yes, my old Tracfone was so old and cheap it didn’t have a camera; stop acting shocked) So, I grabbed pictures of those on-and-off-ramp signs and went home to figure out how to send them to my email. At that point, Tracfone and Samsung did a “This Is Broken” because the Slider, currently the service’s most expensive phone (at $49.95, whoopee), was officially NOT enabled to send pictures, messages or anything to an email address, only to another mobile number. Even though some of Tracfone’s less expensive models are enabled.

I searched for a way around, even consulting Ask MetaFilter (I may be the only MeFi Early Adopter who usually avoids the most useful part of the site). I checked out one online photo storage service that offered uploading from phones using a mobile number, but it’s based in the UK and doesn’t want to play with the AT&T network that Tracfone piggybacks on. After much messing around with the phone, I discovered that, in MMS mode, it was possible to switch the send-to input from numeric to alphanumeric, making typing in an email address possible, but would it send it? And would the email address receive it? Enough suspense. It worked. A totally undocumented (in fact, counter-documented feature). “This Is Broken” but in a way that fixes it for me. But that is how those roadsigns finally found their way to my blog.

One drawback: Even though there is a field in the Contact List for email, you can’t use the Contract List to send a message to an email address because, well, you’re not supposed to do that, and you can’t switch from numeric to alphanumeric for any of the phone number fields you can use, meaning I have to type in the full email address every time, meaning I gotta get a shorter email address. Anyway, a few not-all-that-precious hours wasted on figuring out how to do something semi-obvious has been turned into a few minutes wasted for anybody who actually read this rant. My apologies. And also apologies for the gratuitous John & Yoko picture, planting a mental image of Mork Meets the Borg, revealing my crush on Edie McClurg and the Freddie Mac suicide joke.

1 Comment (so far) about

"A Fail Derail"

  1. Shawno Says:

    Does the Slider have USB? ‘Cause you could probably transfer phots that way. Or maybe with a card reader, if the phone has removable memory. Of course, that’d mean you’d need to buy a USB cable.

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