Friday, 30 January 2009

Polish word of the day: 0012009

I've decided to resurrect 'Polish Word of the Day' - ostensibly to get some culture into an otherwise flagging blog and give Anna a run for her money but basically because it's still by far and away the biggest search hit* and I Want Stats.

Today's Polish Word of the Day is 'pakiet internetowy'. Or even 'pakiet transmiji danych'. (I know that's actually several words. But one single concept).

This is a magic bean that you can bolt on to your sim card or phone contract (if you were the kind of person who stayed in one place long enough to have a phone contract), which allows you to have internet wherever you go. Hurrah, and finally, freedom from sitting in front of the screen! Not only can one check/receive emails on the move (thus avoiding that annoying situation where you have No Work for 48 hours, yet the minute you go outside for a walk/shopping/just to remember what daylight looks like, four million requests arrive, all of which are answered by ... 'never mind, I found another translator' by the time you come back).
Also it would allow me to update my facebook status and get a little mobile phone sign next to it, just to confuse all my friends who work in the city...

Having decided that mobile internet was going to be essential to my professional survival over the next five months, I set out for Carphone Warehouse.

- Sure, said the first guy. You can buy a Blackberry handset (costs a fortune but it'll be worth it), add a SIM-only contract and then cancel it and slip in your Polish SIM once you get over there. No problems!

I spent an evening calculating how many pages of EU regulatory notifications I would have to translate before earning back the £250+ a Blackberry handset would cost me, and whether it would in fact be better to spend this money on minor essentials such as my first month's rent and deposit (I probably lose almost this amount per month in missed jobs when I'm away from my email for whatever reason).
I then passed many happy hours trying to decipher the various websites of Simplus, Era and Blackberry Polska. All excellent vocabulary practice.

The next day I went to the Sevenoaks Mobile Phone Centre. A very smug salesman was very busy with a middle-aged customer. I checked the queue at Phones 4 U and came back about twenty minutes later.

Blackberry? No, you can't do that. It's got to be configured you see - all of ours are locked to Vodafone. If you put a new sim in the email won't work.
You could try the new Nokia...


... but it'll cost you 300quid.


Back to the drawing board.

I tried Carphone Warehouse again and talked to a different salesperson.

- You know what? she said; I think maybe for your purposes an email phone isn't the best way forward. Why not get a netbook (greedily I took in the row of tiny 7" Asus laptops, all heavily discounted - hurrah for credit-crunch Britain) and use a PAYG dongle for mobile internet? Then all you have to do is put in your Polish sim when you go abroad!

Wow! A new toy! And wouldn't it look bad-ass in the booth?! (not that I'm in the booth all that often, but who knows, maybe a magic netbook would give me special professional powers)

I wanted one.

I went home and rang the 3G sales line to ask about their mobile broadband roaming rates.

- Um... I'm not actually going to buy anything today but I'd like to... can I still ask you some questions?
I could feel the guy's heart sink at the lost commission, but he gamely agreed to chat to me.

- No... no it doesn't work like that. All our dongles are locked to 3G. You'd have to have it re-configured for a Polish sim. You're basically in a Catch-22 situation** really: if you get an English contract you have to pay massive roaming fees, and if you get a Polish one... well, you're stuck with it for eighteen months.

Oh crap.

Back to the drawing board. Worse still, no new toy for me.

I decided to leave it until I actually got to Poland and then go and talk to the nice guy in the Plus GSM store. And then possibly to the dodgy guy down the road just off Starowiślna, under the sign saying 'Odblokowanie komórki'.

Anyone got a better idea?

*with the exception of anything about Polish men. You'd be surprised. Actually, maybe I should tag all my posts with 'Polish men' and gain a whole new reader demographic.
**I've heard that the French equivalent to this phrase is 'une situation Corneillienne': can anyone give me an Italian or Polish version?


Anonymous said...

buy one from the US via eBay. flat rate wherever UR in the civilised world!

Polish man. well, half-way through at least

peixote said...

I think the closest Polish equivalent would be "kwadratura koła" ("squaring the circle") although I have heard "Paragraf 22" used as well.

Jake said...

Hi Pinolona

I use mobile data through my phone, in both UK and Poland, swapping SIm cards as necessary. I use it both on the phone itself, and to connect to a laptop as a modem... so this sounds like what you need.

I use a Nokia N95, which came unlocked, but you can basically use any (preferably 3G data) phone; nokia has loads. I use it on O2 in the UK; but it really doesn't matter. Any 3G phone, any network - EXCEPT the blackberries and things of that ilk, they have their own quirks and settings. You odn't need the top-end ones, but it depends what features you want on the phone

OK, now go to Poland and get it unlocked if you need to. Get yourself a PlusGSM pay-as-you-go SIM card; enable data, and hey presto, your phone can do mobile data in both countries without costing you the earth. You'll need to enter some settings to the phone for both UK & PL networks (then you might have to choose between them appropriately). This can sometimes be a bugger to set them both up, but it can be done with some persuasion!

good luck! If you want more info or some help, let me know!


pinolona said...

Jake: that's awesome, thanks! I'm leaving tomorrow morning (that is assuming the snow lets up and Gatwick re-open their runway) so it's too late to do anything in the UK, but I have both English and Polish sims and I sort of planned to get a new handset when I arrived to make emailing a bit easier. It's good to know you can use it on both networks: I was worried I might spend a fortune on a posh phone and then find I can't use it in England...
Brilliant, I have some spare time this week so I'll pop into the shop on Galeria Krakowska.

Peixote: fantastic, thanks! I asked an Italian friend for their equivalent and they said it was 'ketch twenti-tu', so I guess there's no Italian version...

Cheers anonymous half-Polish man (or Polish half-man??). I'll probably stick to PAYG though. Thanks anyway!

Anonymous said...

reading Jake: Nokia N95's easy to get in Kraków in Basztowa, in Budynek LOTu, close to Stary Kleparz.

I'm neither half-Polish nor half-man (UGH!). genetically I'm by far mostly Polish. and let's stay at: halfling. I think halfling's're great.

Polish Halfling

pinolona said...

oh crap I just bought an E63 from Saturn. Ah well never mind. It's good to have a new toy...

Island1 said...

Probably far too late but I wrote something about internet access problems and some people left helpful comments about this kind wireless/mobile business.

pinolona said...

Cheers, I'll take a look. I'm pretty much ok with the phone now I think: the network is working fine, my only complaint is with the rather patchy service I'm receiving from Nokia Messenging :(

Anonymous said...

Catch 22 = błędne koło :D

pinolona said...

Yeeesss! I should've known... like that club on Bracka...