A Wi-Fi World Adventure: Travel in the Age of Twitter

Some people yearn for a more innocent time -- you know, the agrarian past where people immersed themselves in the joys of using a washboard, hand gathering eggs, and milking cows on their own little plot of heaven while living organic, using the outhouse, and cultivating rare kinds of corn. I am not one of those people.

When my parents bought their first PC back in my teen years, I eagerly learned Basic, Word Perfect (which still has the best editing feature of any document program -- what is so difficult about adding that functionality, Microsoft? Hmmmmm?), and DOS. The thrill of not having to retype a paper so exceeded the learning curve that I was hooked.

The new tech that comes along still excites me. Though I’m by no means an early adopter, I’m usually in the second wave. I like waiting for bugs to be worked out. My only exception to that rule is with my iPhone, because the iPhone is innately cool.

I love technology because it makes life easier, more connected, and smarter. It's incredibly useful when it comes to distances. I know because I traveled a great distance to Australia for winter break. I wondered if I could use my phone, blog, Tweet, stay connected via Facebook and email, and upload pictures so seamlessly that no one would know I was on the other side of the world. Why, yes I could. It would just take a bit of extra work and money.

Before leaving, I disabled my Facebook and Twitter updates so that I wouldn’t be hammered with excess texts.

Next, I wanted to make sure my iPhone was fully functional; to receive data, texts, and phone service that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Well, it only cost an arm. Note to Steve Jobs: Dude, it’s all well and good that you’ve made the best phone ever, but AT&T’s inane billing absolutely sucks the joy out of the ease of phone use. In your next contract with them, demand simplification. Please.

But I digress.

AT&T has a complicated phalanx of confusing parts and pieces in its billing. It took me over an hour on the phone with three different people to ensure that I didn't end up spending $25,000 in data charges (yes, that happened to a customer). Why can’t this be easy? Why is it so blankety-blank expensive to have phone service in a country where you have a network and sell the phone, like in Australia? I should be able to get local rates while I’m there. What’s wrong with a flat fee per week that’s full service? If I didn’t know better, I'd swear that AT&T keeps things complicated to make loads of money by screwing unsuspecting customers -- and even well-informed ones -- with all the roaming and data fees.