Archive for December, 2007|Monthly archive page

iPhone + AT&T

My cell phone service was cut off Friday afternoon and so I needed to get new service ASAP. Having kids in school and day-care means having a reliable cell-phone mandatory these days. Plus, I need to surf the web while standing in line at Starbucks! I started doing research on the plans, coverage and other options, but didn’t get very far. It turns out my wife was getting me an iPhone for Christmas and so I got to open my present early this year!Opening an Apple product is always quite an experience for me. I like to sit down in the middle of the room, maybe have a glass of wine, relax and then carefully open the layers. The iPhone did not disappoint. First, the box is very small. I guess most Apple products come in small boxes these days, being environmentally sound and all. Although it was small, it was quite heavy. It felt nice. I would guess it felt to me like a box of jewelry from Tiffany would feel to a woman–perfect, luxurious, substantial and valuable.I can’t help but smile just thinking about it. The iPhone itself was nicely displayed and everything else was tucked under a black box under the iPhone itself. Very classy. When I turned it on, it said I needed to connect with iTunes. I knew this from reading about it and so was not surprised. I would have liked to surf the web a bit over my WiFi connection or maybe just look at the menus, but no big deal. Once I connected,  the activation part started. At this point, the entire experience turned sour. I knew it was coming. I’ve done it before. But I haven’t actually gone through a cell phone activation process for many years.So, what is it I object to so much? First, the phone number. I have to have a phone number to get a cell phone. My whole being screams out in frustration and anger at this. Why in the world do I need a phone to get a phone!? I know the answer, of course. It’s just so they can sell it to people to make sales calls or tie it together with other information in order to sell me stuff. Oh, and so the NSA has an easier time tracking me, although I’m sure this is just a nice side benefit for them and not actually part of the business model. Do I have a phone? Yes. Although I didn’t once before when I first experienced this (maybe 10-12 years ago). I had just moved to the bay area, but didn’t have a place yet, therefore no phone. More on that later. So, I gave it and provided my number. It looks like they actually take the time and effort to verify it as well, so no 555-1212’s (I didn’t try this, just guessing). Next, they needed my billing and home address. OK, so they have to send me a bill, I guess. Most other services I deal with these days don’t, but this is a pretty old and crusty company and I’m sure it never crossed their mind to just let me punch in my Visa or Paypal or whatever. So, I give the billing address. But, that’s not good enough. They want my home address to. Why? Are they going to come to my house?This really makes me mad. In order for them to “loan” me the $100 or whatever they are subsidizing the iPhone with, I have to give them my life. Why can’t I just pay them the $100? Or, put it on a Visa? Or give it to them and get it back later if I manage to pay my bill for 24 months? Obvious, again. They want this information to sell. And, they do some serious checking on it too. They have some kind of database that has addresses and you have to be in it in order to activate (or call; catch-22 again).Finally, and so unbelievable that it doesn’t even upset me that much, is the requirement of a social security number. I’m not sure I’ve put my social security number on anything except my tax returns for years. I had forgotten what it was like to be poor and at the mercy of these monopolistic corporations (not that I wouldn’t mind if *I* was the monopolistic corporation). But, still. This sucks. Again, I’m sure this is just for money. The personal profile they build up is very complete and of high quality, so I’m sure it is worth quite a bit. I’ve looked at my credit reports in the past and much of the information is either totally wrong or out of data. Fortunately, it hasn’t been wrong in a bad way, but I know it’s just luck.  With this personal information strip search, I guess it will be more up-to-date now. I managed to get through this process (my wife was not happy that I was so upset and threatened to take the iPhone back a couple of times if I didn’t get over it). So, I did. And, it is wonderful, just like I expected. It is beautify to look at. The finger controls are really fun to play with. The set of built in applications is compelling (which is good, since I can’t add any others yet!). My phone was activated before I finished reading the page on the screen that was telling me about activation. I was very impressed. It found my WiFi and just started using it.I made my first phone call tonight and it was very clear. My music and videos transferred over without any issues, along with my bookmarks, calendar and contacts. I’m thrilled–even though I had to sell a bit of my soul.

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