Friday, September 10, 2010
Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1997

This week I ended up having to hang up on the customer service agent from my current mobile operator. The problem, you see, is that my phone won't receive calls or send texts. These things are quite important to me.

Here's a summary of the call I made to their customer service line. (It was the second call, as the nice lady from the first call promised to call me back with a solution but my phone won't receive... You get the point.)

Me: "Is there anything you can do?"
Nice man: "I'm afraid you're in a bad area for 3G signal."
Me: "I'm in Central London."
Nice man: "Exactly. Just turn 3G off, and use GSM only. That will solve it."
Me: "But I need 3G!"
Nice man: "What do you use if for? It's only for the internet and stuff."
Me: "Okaaaay. When will it be fixed?"
Nice man: "You'll need to stay on GSM-only until the end of September."
Me: Right. [click]

When faced with disappointing service I normally write a letter to the offending company's UK MD, cc'ing the global CEO and possibly a member of the British Monarchy.

But not this week. It's time to be positive. I'm going to turn this problem into an opportunity! Being back on GSM has fixed the problem with my phone, but it's also presented me with a unique challenge. Yes, I need to survive on GSM - good ol' 2G - until my network operator fixes its 3G masts. But I think I can do so much more...

Can I return to the year I first got a mobile phone of my very own - 1998?
Can I forgo all the technology I didn't have back then?
Can I say goodbye to Mp3, HD TV, PS3 and 802.11g?

You know what? I reckon I can. Starting tomorrow I'm off on a journey back to 1998 - and not only am I going to rid myself of the technological trappings of a late-Noughties technophile, I'm going to revisit the people and places from that year in my life along the way. So, until my operator gets its 3G network back online, this blog will be dedicated to posts from my rediscovery of the world in 1998. To be honest I hope they take their time.

But before I press the button on the time machine, here are some rules that I'm going to live by until I'm sent back to the future:

1. My phone can be GSM only - no GPRS, no EDGE, no HDPA, no data.
2. I can use the internet - but only from wired connections (so no wifi).
3. Twitter is OK, as long as it doesn't break rule 1 or 2.
4. Portable music must be CD. Home video must be DVD. Books must be paper.
5. New gadgets (such as a Flip cam) can ONLY be used to document this experiment.
BONUS RULE. At times when the rules might get in the way of work, I can bend them. But not to the point where this stops being fun.

See you all in 1998.