Freelance writers know the minute they stop writing is the minute they stop earning. Sure there are some cool benefits like working at home and working when you want. But if you’re trying to earn a living of any kind, you know darn well that if you don’t write, you don’t eat. And this writing gig, love it though I may, has prevented me from doing some activities with my daughter or my wife. There were times I literally couldn’t afford to break away from my computer in order to meet a deadline for a client.
So prior to this summer, I was in kind of a crisis-mode: I knew having a laptop allowed me to keep writing. I could write while sitting under a palm tree or where ever. But what I couldn’t do was access the internet to enable me to do research. And because some of my freelance work required me to do research, I had a problem and some serious limitations. Either I would spend a lot of time hopping back and forth to various “internet café’s” so I could access the internet or I would have to go on hiatus with a few clients for the summer, which brings me back to what I wrote in the first paragraph about eating.
Well, apparently the European telephone service provider “Vodafone” heard my cry for help, because no sooner did I start breathing in and out of a paper bag to stop my hyperventilating, I discovered the recently-introduced the “Vodafone Connect Card” and suddenly everything in my life became rosy again.
In all its simplicity, the Connect Card is palm size data-card that inserts into your laptop via the PCMCIA card slot. The connect card is compatible with Windows XP and Windows 2000 and allows you high-speed access to the internet, your e-mail or your company network no matter where you are.
For all its convenience the Connect Card is not cheap. At least not in Italy. It runs about € 190.00 which is roughly $220.00 dollars. For that price I also received 60 free hours of internet use. The Connect Card purchase program allows you to buy the card and then “receive it every time your Internet hours run out. For example, when I get down to about 5 hours left, I’ll receive a message on my cell phone telling me to go to a Vodafone store and pay €30.00 for 30 more hours of internet use.
So you get the Connect Card (see photo), an installation CD and a SIM (subscriber identity module) chip that you install in the back of the Connect Card. The card uses UMTS/GPRS Quad-band technology, which means its picks up frequencies ranging from 850 to 1900MH for a GPRS connection and 2100MHz for a UMTS connection which allows the card to search for internet access in virtually any country.
Anyway, after you install the software, re-stat your laptop, slip in the Connect Card into the card slot, it will roam and pick up the nearest internet access signal and you’re off and running.
I’m not a computer geek, so I’m going to convey the user-friendliness of the Connect Card in Layman’s terms. It took an entire day of me going back and forth between the Vodafone Service Center (where I purchased the Connect Card) and the authorized technician for my laptop before I was able to make any headway with the Connect Card. First I got an internet connection, but then couldn’t access my e-mail. Then I could only get Yahoo but not Hotmail. But eventually it all worked out and I wish I could explain how but I can’t. From what I understand though, I am not the only customer who has had initial set-up problems with the Connect Card. I’m happy to say that NOW everything works fine. I have a high speed connection that accesses the internet not only here, but abroad. So if I go to say, Ireland or England on business, the roaming capabilities of the Connect Card will pick up a signal and allow m to keep working, even though I may be in a McDonalds or sitting on a park bench.
When I purchased the Connect Card in early June, I mentioned to my wife that I just KNEW by summer’s end, technology would eclipse what I had just purchased and some new product would come out on the market that was cheaper, faster and probably smaller. And in fact it has.
Vodafone has just come out with a cell phone that has guaranteed internet access. I’m not talking about a cell phone that you plug into your laptop in order to pull down an internet signal. I’m talking about cell phone with a slightly larger-than-normal LCD screen which enables you to pull down a signal and check your e-mail or whatever right there on the phone. I can only imagine what this does to your eyes.
But I digress. Thanks to the Connect Card I can pretty much live out my dream: I can go anywhere with my family and at any point in time I can plug the Connect Card into my laptop and check my e-mail or send a digital photo or do some research or ANYTHING I would normally do if I was sitting at home at my desk.
I may not know much about computers, but I know what works for me. And the Connect Card has made my summer a real success.