iPhone or Equivalent, please.

The iPhone has me in its grasp – I find myself immensely wanting one, despite the fact I have never had an Apple product before (so I’m by no means a fan boy). I have for a long time wanted an easy to use portable device with WiFi, such that I can check emails and (optionally) keep in touch with friends on MSN Messenger (my IM of choice). I would barely use it as a phone – it would function simply as a music/video player when I’m travelling, and my gateway to emails/chat with friends and colleagues.

But today Vodafone said no to the iPhone. This means that I could import one from the US and unlock, but that leaves me dubious as to the long-term viability of the iPhone, given the talk of potential ‘bricking’. By my rough calculation, one can be purchased from America for $535 ($399US).

The alternative…..well, what are the alternatives? I have tried PDA’s and find that they cause me no end of grief – my last one refused to remember the WiFi passwords for networks I frequently use. Is there a good tool for the job I outline above? What are peoples thoughts on importing and using iPhones?

New Car

Julia and I finally got around to buying a new car, given that we haven’t had one since we got married. I’ve never been a car person, but as soon as I got it I ripped the stereo out and bought a new one, along with two decent speakers for the back (I still need to replace the front two). The old stereo was Japanese, so it would go nowhere near the FM range that I like, nor did it have any means to plug an ipod into (other than tape, which sounded awful). I got myself a decent Panasonic stereo which has a CD player (and it can play CDs/CD-RWs with MP3’s on them), and an auxiliary input plug for the ipod.

The car is a Nissan Bluebird Le Grande, and it meets my car criteria (i.e. it can drive me from A to B). We bought it from Turners Auctions, hence their advertising in the photo below. Overall, I’m happy…

Our car

Surgery Proposal #3

For people that don’t know me (i.e. those on Planet NZTech), I am the incredibly lucky owner of a broken left arm, in the sense that a nerve was compressed up in my elbow region for a number of years in my mid to late teens. This means that all my fingers and thumb can’t be extended – they tend to droop almost completely. I have a few tricks up my sleeves, such as using a flat laptop keyboard to have some typing ability in the left hand. I try to use my left hand as normally as possible, but it is an annoying thing.

I have already had two surgeries on it attempting to alleviate some of the pressure on the nerve, and for all intents and purposes, this was successful. The downside was that the hoped-for improvements to my hand never eventuated. This led to me going to my second Wellington hand-clinic yesterday (the first was a year ago leading up to my second surgery). Seeing these 5 specialists, they all recommended a surgery known as a tendon transfer, whereby tendons usually mapped to control the ‘closing’ of my fingers would be instead mapped to lift my fingers. The problem is that one tendon will be used for my thumb, and another four all four fingers. My understanding of this would mean that I would have to lift all four fingers at the same time, and possibly also lower them at the same time.

This would not be ideal for typing (my special use case), but in general would be an improvement I feel.

I don’t know if I want this surgery or not. My research online only yields far too technical discussions on the matter, and my surgeon lives 2 and a half hours away in Wellington (and charges too much). I really dont know if it’ll be the right thing to do or not – I may live to regret it, or alternatively wonder why I ever put it on hold (as I have been for the last year already).

So that’s my story as of right now. I am needing to make a choice, but don’t quite know the way I should decide. I have resolved to stop being so lazy with my arm and to try and work it out daily (by playing with kids toys no less – I’m heading down to the warehouse today to buy some building blocks 🙂 ). Any thoughts, either on here or privately via email, would be much appreciated.

Tricky Air New Zealand…..Real Tricky

Had an interesting experience booking a flight with Air NZ today. My wife is wanting to go to Hamilton for a week of calving practise at a vet clinic up there. I had already booked her a flight home (paying for it myself), but then my brother reminded me that I had $300 worth of airpoints expiring in October, so I thought I might as well pay with that for Julia’s flight up to Hamilton (she was just going to get my dad to drive her up there otherwise).

I went to the airNZ website, and found the best fare to be $139. I decided to call the airNZ phone number, as I needed to hook Julia up to my airpoints account. I thought at the same time I could do Julia’s booking – I already knew the flight details as I found them online. I proceeded to give Air NZ the details they needed, until I found they charge an extra $15 to do the booking, so despite being 2 words away from paying for the flight, I backed out (being the frugal fulla that I am). I told them I would book online.

I hung up thinking all was good, until I clicked the booking button online, only to be told my session is timed out. Fair enough, just redo the search. To my surprise, the exact flights I was looking at 1 minute earlier had jumped in price, from $139 to $174. Needless to say, I was not impressed.

Now, I’m probably taking this much too personally, but it seems a tad convenient that the minute after I hang up from a phone call where I expressed interest in a specific flight that the flight has jumped up in price by $34 dollars. For me to have booked on the phone, it would’ve cost me $154 – and this is what I backed out of.

My theory is one of thrice:

  1. Air NZ has automated software to keep track of flights customers have expressed interest in, and alters prices accordingly.
  2. The call attendant I called didn’t like my cheapskatedness, and rung Air NZ CEO Ralph Norris to express her displeasure with me. They then continued to discuss the most appropriate means of annoying me.
  3. I’m crazy and had extremely bad luck.

My suggestion to others: just book online and save yourself $15, whilst also saving yourself from incurring any mysterious phenonoma surrounding magically inflating prices.

This has been a public service announcement 🙂