Subject: Re: Calling Cards
Hello Callers:

As many of you know I have taken the more expensive (not by choice) route using an AT&T SIM chip in a GSM cellphone in Europe. I forward my office calls to my cellphone and while I have used a CDMA phone in the US, I also have a SIM chip from AT&T for use in a GSM phone in Europe. I got the GSM phone as a hand-me-down from a UK friend. The result is that if you call my US office while I am in Europe, then the call is seamlessly forwarded to the GSM phone for me to answer. It is a question of being available to clients who expect me to be there and my idea of service while taking time out to enjoy travel. For years I have had two phones, the CDMA for use in the US and the GSM for use in Europe. Now, however, AT&T Wireless (soon to be Cingular) has converted its US system to GSM. I recently converted my service over to AT&T's GSM US service and I am using a US tri-band cellphone. Now instead of taking two phones to Europe (we needed the CDMA phone to call the limo service upon our return) I can carry one cellphone which will work both in the US and Europe. Don't smirk; Boston's Logan is going to $50 per day parking and the limo service is only $50 each way.

If you do not have to be connected as I think I have to be, then get an unlocked GSM phone on eBay and then go buy a pre-paid SIM chip. Unlocked is key. It allows you to use any pre-paid SIM chip and connect with virtually any service in Europe.

Finally since we are on cellphones, my new cellphone is Bluetoothed equipped. That is a great feature. I can download my calendar and address book to it from my PC. The feature I like best, however, is that I have a JABRA Bluetooth headset. There are others. As long as the phone is within 30 feet, it will answer automatically to my earpiece. There are no wires. It was always a pain in the neck driving in the UK having the earpiece plugged in via a wire to the phone. The wire would inevitably get wrapped around the shift and pull out as I went through the gears. Now the phone sits in my pocket, the earset on my ear and I can simply say, "Hello" when the phone rings (it answers automatically). While your companions may view it as strange, Europeans do not. They are more cellphone savvy than most Americans I have met.

Finally finally, you are on vacation. Shut off the phone. Let the messages go to an answering machine. You can always poll your answering machine from anywhere there is a telephone. Enjoy the trip and relax. Civilization as we know it will not collapse if you are out of touch for a couple of weeks or months. And when you return you can take pleasure in answering the question. "What? Have you been out of the country for the last two weeks?" with a smile and a "Why, as a matter of fact, yes."

Tom in Carlisle trying to figure out if he can follow his own advice.