Friday, August 7, 2009

Tweet me up, Scotty!

In the Cheap Man's Guide to Cell Phones (patent pending), Pay as You Go is king. $100 worth of minutes that doesn't expire for a whole year? That's a paltry $8.33 per month. Of course, it's using a mere $8.33 per month that becomes the real trick... and this is where my problem began.

While Pay as You Go kindly throws in all sorts of key features like voicemail and caller ID for free, the per-minute rate is astronomical. I get charged 15 cents per outgoing text, 15 cents per incoming text, and 25 cents for the first minute of every conversation (15 cents per minute after that). Of course, when you're planning a meeting or event, you often end up embroiled in any number of short, frequent conversations. They add up.

Things came to a head last week when I reviewed my billing history and found that I had consumed $12 worth of cell phone time over a single week. One week! I was already aware that my phone cards were being exhausted every few months, long before their annual expiry date. If I was going to use $40 - $50 a month, then I might as well get a proper plan.

However, I thought, plans are expensive. If I use my cell phone wisely, this current arrangement can still work. This is how: I will no longer pick up my cell phone unless you are awesome I really really need to. In lieu of calling, I have installed a $6 text plan which includes 165 outgoing text messages a month, and... wait for it... free incoming text. My goal over the next couple months is to reduce my mobile expenditures to $20/mo, at least $7 cheaper than the cheapest of cell phone plans (to my knowledge) once you factor in network fees and all that jazz.

Here's the breakdown - $6/mo texting plus $5/mo ET phones home (25 cents times 5 days a week times four weeks) equals $11/mo. That still allows me $9 to send and receive phone calls from awesome people in situations where I really need to make verbal contact.

But wait, there's more! Free incoming text? 165 text messages a month? How should I best use these new texting powers? Should I use them for good... or for awesome? In my case, I decided to finally dust off ye olde Twitter account and start tweeting.

Now many of you likely know Twitter as "that useless rip-off of Facebook statuses." Let me explain to you why I think Twitter is, in fact, pretty cool:
  • I get bored at work performing repetitive tasks. This leads me to refresh my e-mail every five seconds minutes hoping for something new and exciting. With free incoming text, I can receive tweets directly to my mobile (if I so care to do so), which can provide a brief and entertaining diversion.

  • I can microblog on the go. I have to admit, I can see the unique appeal of Twitter. There have been a number of occasions where I specifically wished I could tell the world something neat that I just saw - something short and sweet that I could never pull together a full length blog entry about. For example, when I'm sitting on the subway and the woman beside me is a textbook case of essential tremor, which I just learned about in class; or when I'm at the mall with a friend and hear Utada playing in a non-Asian clothing store.

  • No Internet required. Sure, if I'm already online maybe Facebook and MSN statuses make Twitter redundant, but I can update my Twitter from my data-plan-deprived-Blackberry. That, my friends, is a winner.
While we're on the topic of Twitter, I actually already had a handful of people following my dormant Twitter account for the months since I created it (to follow Stephane Dion during the federal election). One of these was my sister, who unbeknownst to me had fired off this tweet during my March break: "is bummed that her bro decided to go out with his friends instead of playing Rockband with her". Aww, isn't that sweet?

3 comments: said...

"is bummed that her bro decided to go out with his friends instead of playing Rockband with her" Nope not sweet. I say this day and night, for years and years and I never got any recognition for it~

Joyce said...

Dude, you totally didn't pick up your cell phone when i called...! i see how it is... :P

sandlot said...

wait... you have a BLACKBERRY?! but no DATA PLAN?!!! that's just ridiculous. That's like purchasing a HD tv but not buying HD dvds. No logic at all.

btw. if you're going to keep crossing out the word awesome, you might as well just substitute my name into the sentence instead. geez. lol.