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Friday Summary - October 16, 2009

All last week I was out of the office on vacation down in Puerto Vallarta. It was a trip my wife and I won in a raffle at the Phoenix Zoo, which was pretty darn cool.

I managed to unplug far more than I can usually get away with these days. I had to bring the laptop due to an ongoing client project, but nothing hit and I never had to open it up. I did keep up with email, and that’s where things got interesting.

Before heading down I added the international plan to my iPhone, for about $7, which would bring my per-minute costs in Mexico down from $1 per minute to around $.69 a minute. Since we talked less than 21 minutes total on the phone down there, we lose.

For data, I signed up for the 20 MB plan at a wonderfully fair $25. You don’t want to know what a 50 MB plan costs. Since I’ve done these sorts of things before (like the Moscow trip where I could never bring myself to look at the bill), I made sure I reset my usage on the iPhone so I could carefully track how much I used.

The numbers were pretty interesting – checking my email ranged from about 500K to 1MB per check. I have a bunch of email accounts, and might have cut that down if I disabled all but my primary accounts. I tried to check email only about 2-3 times a day, only responding to the critical messages (1-4 a day). That ate through the bandwidth so quickly I couldn’t even conceive of checking the news, using Maps, or nearly any other online action. In 4 days I ran through about 14 MB, giving me a bit more space on the last day to occupy myself at the airport.

To put things in perspective, a satellite phone (which you can rent for trips – you don’t have to buy) is only $1 per minute, although the data is severely restricted (on Iridium, unless you go for a pricey BGAN). Since I was paying $3/minute on my Russia trip, next time I go out there I’ll be renting the sat phone.

So for those of you who travel internationally and want to stay in touch… good luck.

-rich

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Blog Comment of the Week

This week’s best comment comes from Rob in response to Which Bits are the Right Bits:

Perhaps it is not well understood that audit logs are generally not immutable. There may also be low awareness of the value of immutable logs: 1) to protect against anti-forensics tools; 2) in proving compliance due diligence, and; 3) in providing a deterrent against insider threats.

—Rich

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By Rob  on  10/29  at  12:47 PM

International phones… What a PITA.

I don’t yet do data on my phone (although the “droid” might change that for me) but I do travel.

In Europe phones are essentially free. Actually free in some cases. When I was in Sweden this summer I used a phone that was one of three that a friend had been given at a trade show. It was hooked up to a prepay service where I could go online and top it up in a minute or two. Of course, using an out-of-country credit card complicated that, but that is fair. Meanwhile another friend of mine was in Sweden and his iPhone cost him $1/minute for voice. Oddly, he had a very cheap data plan so he could use it as a pocket computer with no problems, which was what he did 99% of the time.

Verizon is actually really good if you are going to Canada. Call them up, say “turn on Canada” and for $20/month (and the do pro-rate) you are “in network” when in Canada. I figure $20 to use my phone exactly as I do here on the southern side of the border is worth it. AT&T’s really expensive voice service in Canada is the main reason I didn’t switch to an iPhone. Now I have a Verizon femtocell in my office and my Verizon voice service is perfect at home.

In Canada

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