I want a phone with…

  • The basics: voice, text, picture messaging and voice mail. (check)
  • Bluetooth connection. (check)
  • Easily transfer files to my Linux computer. (check)
  • Working voice dial.
  • A real web browser (Opera, Safari, etc., not just WAP).
  • Wi-fi capability, at least for its internet access.
  • A camera with at least 2 megapixels of resolution.

Those I can get; it’s just a matter of shopping around.  (Well, looking at what T-Mobile has, since I’ve got over a year left on my contract) .  But I also want:

  • A camera that actually shoots good pictures.  At least 3 or 4 megapixels, optical zoom, and can pick up color and detail in different light conditions.
  • A music player with enough space to hold my entire music collection.

Admittedly, we’re getting into short skirt/long jacket territory at this point, but basically I want one device that can replace my phone, iPod, and digital camera.  I’m tired of carrying around all three.  At the moment, even the high-end iPhone only has 16 GB, which would just barely hold the music.  And while phones are cramming more and more pixels into their cameras, they’re still using tiny, fixed lenses.

I’ve said before that I think the iPhone, or a comparable device, will catch up to what I want in 2010 or so.  For now, I’ll have to raid the Batcave for a utility belt.

I can’t quite bring myself to get a Blackberry, but I keep looking at the T-Mobile Shadow. I’m a bit reluctant to run Windows on my phone, and really reluctant to run Internet Explorer, but it should be able to run Opera Mobile. And while the reviews seem to be good overall, they haven’t been impressed with the picture quality of the camera.

Well, one big purchase at a time. (It’s too early for me to get the full upgrade discount, anyway.) And who knows, a new phone that’s a better fit might be available in a couple of months when I’m ready to actually buy something.

I just spotted a rather disturbing phishing message in (of all places) our abuse contact mailbox:

Subject: Fraud Prevention Measures

Dear customer!

Due to high fraud activity we constantly increasing security level both for online banking and card transactions. In order to update our records you are required to call MBNA Card Service number at 1-800-[removed] and update information on your MBNA card.

This is free of charge and would not affect any transactions with your card. Please note this is necessary to provide highest security level for all transactions with your card.

No HTML tricks. No links to fraudulent websites. Just a phone number.

I can only assume this is a response to high-profile inclusion of antiphishing features in Internet Explorer 7 and in Firefox 2. If there’s no website, there’s nothing for a web browser to check.

And of course by not using sneaky technical tricks in the message, it’s harder for tools like ClamAV, spam filters, or mail clients to detect.

Incidentally, does anyone else find it ironic that one of the most common phishing techniques is to exploit people’s fear of being phished?

Further reading: Anti-Phishing Working Group.

This is a story on phone menus, though it applies to anything where the user interface can change. I phoned in a refill on a prescription this morning. The phone system lets you choose when you plan on picking it up, presumably so that the pharmacy can prioritize people who are coming in sooner. Generally, it asks you to enter the hour, then #, then 1 for AM or 2 for PM.

I wanted to swing by around noon, so I entered 12, then #, and then without listening for the option, I hit 2. I wanted to pick it up around 12:00 pm.

So I was surprised to hear, “We’re sorry, the pharmacy is not open at midnight.” I flashed back to elementary school, when I was out on the field trying to explain to my friends why noon was 12 PM and not 12 AM as they insisted. Had someone managed to get into a programming position, without clearing that up?

As I re-entered the time, I listened for the options. It turns out that they had anticipated just such confusion, as after I chose 12, the option was, “Please enter 1 for noon, or 2 for midnight.” That works great for people who are using the system for the first time, whether they know noon is PM or not. Unfortunately, for people who have been using it for years and (normally) don’t need to listen to the options, it switches the buttons around. It’s like those WinZip registration dialog boxes that would rearrange the buttons every time, so that you couldn’t just click through, you’d have to pay at least some attention to it.

Of course, then there’s the question of why it even gives you the option for midnight…

The drawback of cellular phone technology is that you need to have transmitters everywhere. In a big city you can probably mount them on buildings, but in the suburbs, you just have to put up towers like you do for power lines and land-line phones. Every once in a while, someone decides to pretty things up a bit.

Cleverly disguised cellular phone tower

I’ve been meaning to catch a picture of this one for weeks, but I’ve just never been on the right stretch of freeway with a camera before. Katie almost caught it last week on the way back from San Diego, but the lighting conditions were poor and the picture came out way too grainy.

It’s not a bad approximation of a palm tree, but it’s too straight and the fronds are too regular. Still, if most people are only going to see it from their cars, it’s enough to blend in.