I’ve spent way too much time this evening trying to get some very basic things working. I don’t have anyone to blame but myself and my desire to get good service for a decent price, but it has been that bargain-hunter in me that’s gotten me in trouble. I suppose, part of the blame goes to my wife. I should explain.
My wife gets me awesome gifts. On our anniversary, she got me a Sony Vaio laptop. I got her a blender. For Christmas, she tells me she wants to get me a mobile phone.
I said, “let’s get a gPhone!”
She said, “OK!”
Unfortunately, T-Mobile doesn’t have one available for over a 100 mile radius from my house (including the entire DFW metroplex, apparently).
So rather than get tied down into a long term agreement or something horribly expensive, I suggested to my wife we get some good solid and cheap service from MetroPCS. I used that company when I lived in South Florida, and was generally pleased with the service. Their gimmick is that they offer unlimited everything for a flat fee half of what the competitors offer (I’m using currently the most expensive plan, clocking in at $50 a month).
So I did my homework, and picked out the Samsung Spex r210. It was affordable, offered GPS (and thus, I assumed, Loopt capability). Ken Rutkowski just sent me an invite to that yesterday, so I thought it would be cool to connect with him there.
Metro also had a specific plan that included unlimited email capability as well as unlimited data connectivity. My thoughts were that if I were ever on the road, I could plug in a Bluetooth dongle and simply have a connection to use that way instead of hunting for a pirateable WiFi connection.
Turns out, MetroPCS is all about the false advertising.
The Spex doesn’t have GPS at all. Loopt, despite the assurances of Metro tech support, isn’t supported on that device. Email is the most troublesome part to the whole ordeal.
Rather than do it like normal mobile networks do it and allow you to send and receive email thru the SMS or MMS interface, you instead must download a separate application that hooks into a POP/SMTP server you must set up (or it conveniently works with GMail or AIM).
You can receive emails on the device through the SMS interface with no problem at all. (<number>@mymetropcs.com) You can even reply to them. You simply cannot initiate them.
I tried to call the MetroPCS people and ask them to help me solve this, but they gleefully told me that their computers were down and hung up on me. Unbelievable.
Oh, and here’s the kicker: they block Twitter and Jaiku on their SMS gateway.
I really wanted something to work, so I set about hacking up a way to get Twitter to work. I tried using the international gateways, but to no avail.
Then I started getting really creative, and that’s when the problems started.
Since I know I can reply to emails, I set up a filter in GMail that whenever I replied to a message from one of my email accounts, it would forward it directly to an email patch-thru to Twitter. For some reason, though, this didn’t work, ever. I think the problem was in GMail, though I can’t be sure. I tried some other more manual solutions, like using the mail program on the phone and going to m.twitter.com. They both worked technically but in practice, it was a huge pain in the ass (TG9 doesn’t work in the mobile browser at all).
It should be pretty simple to get the messages though, right? I gave up on getting any semblance of a public timeline for my followers (that would be pretty ridiculous anyway, given I have thousands of them), and tried to focus on getting just @replies.
The best way to get them was from search.twitter.com, since getting them from the API required authentication, and there is no way in hell I’m digging thru the API just to get something working on my phone. Turns out it was pretty easy on Twitter’s search, though, since every search query comes with an RSS feed.
I then tried to find a way to get that query into an email format. I wrote up RSSFWD at Mashable at one point, so I remembered it existed and gave it a shot. Apparently, though, I’m the only one who remembers it exists (including its developers) since the site works great but it’s no longer able to send out emails at all.
I tried a few lesser known solutions, and even attempted using Yahoo Pipes. The problems with Pipes were insurmountable. The mobile alert function sucks because MetroPCS isn’t supported, and the email alert function sends out the last 30 or so updates (with no author information).
I even tried Notify.me at the behest of @tylergillies, but guess which mobile network isn’t supported there either.
The problem all comes down to the fact that there aren’t any reliable services out there that take RSS and transport them to email, which of course wouldn’t be an issue if MetroPCS wasn’t such a bitch about their email capabilities or Twitter for that matter.
Bottom line? I’m taking the phone back to the store tomorrow. Whether I ask for my money back or get a different phone is a question I’m going to sleep on.
Suffice it to say, I’m going to bed as an unhappy Rizzn.
In the mean time, does anyone out there have any silver bullets for me? Anyone else gotten Twitter to work on MetroPCS?