Blogging from Starbucks - sin WiFi

Okay, so the whole "find a place to work outside the house" thing isn't working out that great. I went to 4 different libraries today (public and university) and couldn't find any corner to call my own, so now I'm hanging out in one of the Starbucks here in Madrid (there are 4). This was okay, but I was feeling a bit disconnected (no WiFi in Spanish Starbucks). Then I remembered something I ran into yesterday while messing with Telefonica's website.

I was going to bitch again about Telefonica Movistar's horrible website. The fact that it's full of flash and small type and basically unusable and generally uniformative, but while I was looking around for information to get Ana signed up for the GPRS service (I never found it) I DID find a special number you can dial from your mobile phone to access the internet: 551. You dial that from your mobile and get a modem tone just like a normal dial-up ISP, and because it's their service, they charge the lowest cell rates they have available: 0.12� a minute, which could be A LOT worse. I thought it was interesting yesterday, but today it's kick ass.

What happened is that I'm here in Starbucks and I pulled out my laptop and my bluetooth card to get it hooked up to my phone and use GPRS to connect to the Internet. This would actually be VERY expensive had I got it working, but I wasn't thinking about my phone being a modem and thought it was going to be the only way to get online to check my email and post the occasional blog... but I couldn't get it working. I've got networking set up between my 3650 and my PC (I think), but the phone would never connect to the GPRS network. But then I noticed the "dial up networking" service offered by the phone, and I stupidly put in some dummy data hoping that it would kick-in GPRS (I STILL wasn't getting it) and it didn't work, but the phone dialed. Suddenly, duh, it dawned on me that I could use the phone to dial up to an ISP. And that's when I remembered that special Movistar number. Thankfully Internet Explorer has a decent cache (I only use it for Flash-heavy sites as I have Flash turned off on Moz) and I was able to select "work offline" and go through my history looking for that page I saw yesterday. Sure enough I found it: call 551 and use username/password MOVISTAR/MOVISTAR. 30 seconds later I was online!! Woohoo!

Okay, so it's not cheap, but I'd bet that it's a hell of a lot cheaper than GPRS. The best "credit" I can buy is a 20MB for 30�, so I'd have to be careful to meter that out over the month... but this way I just watch the time and I'm all set. And the speed seems to be as good as a 28.8 modem, which is passable. Thus I'm online at Starbucks!! WOohoo! This isn't that great a thing for all your WiFiers but I'm psyched. :-)

Okay. This post cost like 1.20�...


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