Portrait of Edd Dumbill, taken by Giles Turnbull

Subscribe to updates

Feed icon Atom or RSS

or get email updates

What I make

a conference management web application

XTech Conference
a European web technology conference

Foo and the outrageous cost of talk

I've been travelling a lot this week, out in California to visit O'Reilly and attend Foo Camp. I've been working on ideas for relaunching the O'ReillyNet Wireless DevCenter, and they seem to be going down pretty well.

The idea behind Foo Camp is to get 150 or so interesting people in the same place and wait to see what emerges. To a certain extent I'm always cynical about things like this. People like the sound of their own voices and I have a very low boredom threshold.

However, going on last night's experiences, it's going to be pretty good. As well as the wild and wonderful things such as home-made segways and 3D chocolate printers there are lot of very smart computer industry people here. It can sometimes be embarrassing to ask people if they know about such and such a new thing, as it turns out you're actually talking to the person who invented it.

There are also a few crazy folk they let in off the street.

Picture of Rob
Love Picture of
Nat Friedman

Earlier in the week I had a lot of fun sailing in the bay, courtesy of my friend Dave Sims.

Dave Sims and Edd Dumbill

Before that I went to try and buy a US cell phone, as the roaming charges I normally pay from the UK are outrageous. Bad idea. In order to get decent rates to the UK I'd need a contract phone. And for that I need a US social security number or a US registered credit card. And somewhere between a $400 and $800 deposit. Crooks.

Somebody recommended using a calling card, but for that I still need a pre-pay cell phone. I have one of these with T-Mobile, but they're living in the Stone Age. You have to call an operator up to find your remaining balance, and the only way to add more credit to them is to buy a voucher in a store, unlike the online or over-the-phone methods available in the UK. Oh, and even worse, the credit expires after relatively few days. In other words, more crookery.

It seems to me that the mobile phone networks are setting themselves up for a big fall.

I finally found salvation in the form of Skype. This morning I downloaded it onto my Linux laptop, bought credit online, and successfully called back to the UK for about seven minutes. At a cost to me of about $0.14. A similar call on my cell phone normally costs $14. And what's more, it only took a few minutes to install and set up.

Given that vast cost differential, I'm hopeful that there may be a permanent end to the sort of abuse I've put up with from cell phone companies over the last few months.

blog comments powered by Disqus

You are reading the weblog of Edd Dumbill, writer, programmer, entrepreneur and free software advocate.
Copyright © 2000-2012 Edd Dumbill